question period — Finance

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board

June 13, 2019


Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. On May 27, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board confirmed that it is conducting human rights checks on its investments following revelations about two Chinese companies in its holdings. In its most recent filing, the CPP Investment Board disclosed that it owns a total of $48 million worth of shares in these two companies. These companies manufacture equipment used in the mass surveillance of the minority Uighur Muslims, equipment used in the terrible human rights abuses committed against them in recent years. It has been estimated that 1 million Uighurs have been interned in China’s so-called “re-education camps.”

Senator Harder, could you tell us if Minister Morneau is aware of the status of the CPP Investment Board review of the investments? Has the review been completed? If so, have any other similar investments been identified?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate)

I thank the honourable senator for her question and her vigilance on these matters. She will know, as all senators would, that the CPPIB is independent and rightly so. The board does an incredible job in the oversight responsibilities for this important fund. I will make inquiries with respect to the questions that have been asked, but I do think it’s important for us to understand and underscore the independence of the board with respect to these governance matters.


My next question then, Senator Harder, would be, recently Minister Freeland condemned the deepening crackdown on the Uighurs and members of other religious minority groups in China. Notwithstanding that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board may operate independently of the government, I believe that it would take seriously the advice of the Minister of Finance if he were to relay his government’s concern with the investments that involve human rights violations of the Uighurs. Senator Harder, has Minister Morneau asked the board to divest itself of the shares in these two companies? If not, why not?

Senator Harder

Let me indicate, as I did in the previous answer, that I would be happy to raise this with the minister and report back.