At least two Vancouver churches have moved or are considering moving their money out of all investment portfolios that include Enbridge stocks in response to the oil company’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.
The Unitarian Church of Vancouver divested $60,000 in Meritas Jantzi social index funds in July, and could reinvest another $40,000 it holds in other ethical index funds by December, said John Taylor, chair of the church’s investment committee.
The parish, which has about 400 members, passed a resolution in June to rid itself of all Enbridge holdings.
“One of the reasons we sold the funds in Meritas is simply because it was an indication to everyone that we were taking this resolution of the church quite seriously, and (to investment managers) ‘Get out of Enbridge, or we’ll do the same to you,’” Taylor said.
“We’re waiting until we see what happens by mid-December to see if the ethical funds are divesting, or have convinced Enbridge not to build the Northern Gateway.”
Over at the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster, which has about 10,000 members throughout the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast, similar discussions are taking place.
The ministry passed a motion in May to explore the exclusion of all Enbridge and Kinder Morgan stocks from its diocesan investment portfolio. Summer holidays have slowed the process, but a spokesman said it is ongoing.
Both churches’ positions were buoyed by Vancity’s announcement last week that it has divested all Enbridge holdings in its IA Clarington Inhance SRI funds, worth nearly $2.5 million.
The Vancouver-based credit union, Canada’s largest, said Enbridge no longer meets the company’s environmental, social and governance criteria, given a scathing U.S. report on the company’s handling of its 2010 oil spill into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River.
The United Church of Canada, headed by Vancouver’s Rev. Gary Paterson, also categorically opposes the pipeline, but pension fund insiders said Wednesday they didn’t know whether its stance will affect the church’s investment policy.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, however, said it is not interested in shareholder activism.
“The Catholic Church does not take positions on political issues that people of good will can have a valid difference of opinion on,” said church spokesman Paul Schratz in an email to Metro.
“These are matters of prudential judgment and people can apply principles of Catholic social teaching on the economy, the environment, etc. to advance the common good in the way they sincerely see best.”
In response to Vancity’s divestment last week Enbridge said it respects investors’ decisions about the companies in which they invest, and plans to enhance its pipeline inspection, leak detection, valves and clean up technology over the next two years.