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Activists call for divestment from the prison industry at the Columbia Prison Divest and Coalition Against Gentrification action in 2014. (Photo: Danielle Fox/Columbia Prison Divest)

Canadians Call on Pension Fund to Stop Investing in US Private Prison Firms Profiting From 'Brutal Human Rights Abuses' of Trump

"If you've ever worked in Canada, you've paid contributions to the CPP fund. We can't let our CPP contributions flow to corporations that are profiting from Trump's cruel immigration policies."

Julia Conley

Canadian campaigners have gathered tens of thousands of signatures from critics of the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), whose increased investments in a for-profit prison corporation became clear in new reporting by the Guardian Monday.

The CPPIB, one of the largest funds in the world, drew outrage last month after it was first revealed that it held stock in the U.S.-based Geo Group—making the 20 million Canadian retirees it represents unwittingly complicit in the company's private prisons and involvement in the long-term imprisonment of immigrant families under the Trump administration.

"Our retirement savings should not fund brutal human rights abuses." —Sum of Us

Now, following the release of recent regulatory filings, Canadians have learned that their pension fund has increased its investment in Geo Group by nearly 50 percent since the Trump administration's family separation crisis, pouring $6.1 million of Canadian retirees' money into the company.

"The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) has quietly and massively increased its investment in these corporations that are ripping families apart by more than 1,300 percent in the last year," wrote the global advocacy group Sum of Us. "Our retirement savings should not fund brutal human rights abuses. The CPP works for people in Canada to make the best investments possible and has guidelines for social responsibility. It needs to hear from us—its investors—to let it know that we won't allow our pensions to fund for-profit prison companies."

Despite the fact that it is a federal contractor legally prohibited from helping to finance campaigns, Geo Group donated $250,000 to President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign. The group earns $55 million per year from a family detention center it runs in Texas.

Sum of Us has gathered more than 14,000 signatures from Canadians who are demanding the CPPIB fully divest from the company, along with more than 40,000 who have signed a similar petition started by Lead Now.

"While the news was dominated by stories about families separated at the border, and shocking images of babies in cages—the Canada Pension Plan actually increased its investment by 13 times in the two private prison corporations that run most of the immigration jails we saw on the news. That's your money," Lead Now told pensioners in its petition. "If you've ever worked in Canada, you've paid contributions to the CPP fund. We can't let our CPP contributions flow to corporations that are profiting from Trump's cruel immigration policies."

The campaigns have hit social media, with users threatening to pull their savings out of the pension fund unless it divests.

Last Friday, the two groups delivered the petitions to the CPPIB headquarters in Toronto, and the fund met with campaigners earlier this month to hear their concerns, giving some hope to Lead Now.

"I think the reason they're looking into [possible divestment] is because the writing is on the wall," Logan McIntosh, a campaigner with the group, told the Guardian. "It's an unnecessary and shameful investment and it's undermining the confidence of Canadians that they can manage our retirement savings responsibly."

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