IN-DEPTH
Our pensions are financing their war
April 20, 2005

Whether we like it or not, whether we’re even aware of it or not, the B.C. provincial government is actively involved in underwriting the illegal U.S. occupation of Iraq and the ensuing butchery being inflicted on Iraq’s civilian population (now estimated at over 100,000 dead). (1) The B.C. government controls the BC Investment Management Corporation, which in turn controls $63 billion in pension fund investments for the Municipal Pension Plan, the College Pension Plan, the Public Service Pension Plan and the Teachers Pension Plan. (2) As of March 31, 2004, these investments included $4.6 billion worth of stock in 251 corporations producing war materiel and/or contracting to provide goods or services to the Pentagon. (3)

These investments include stock holdings in 39 of the top 100 Pentagon contractors, including the seven largest: Lockheed, Boeing, Raytheon, Northrup Grumman, General Dynamics, United Technologies and General Electric. (4) It also includes 5 of the top 10 ammunition and explosives manufacturers (5), all of the top 4 fuel and lubricant contractors (6), 7 of the top 10 guided missile manufacturers (7), 5 of the top 10 armoured vehicle manufacturers (8), 5 of the top 10 weapons producers (9), and 8 of the top 10 aircraft manufacturers. (10)

Our provincial government’s stock portfolio includes holdings in the following:

AMMUNITION : BC IMC holds $40,593,600 in SNC-Lavalin, the huge engineering firm that is building the RAV line. SNC TEC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin, is part of an international consortium that last year was awarded a five-year contract to supply the US Armed Forces with 300 million to 500 million bullets a year. (11) This contract was awarded by the Pentagon due to the fact that the single US Army-owned facility producing small arms ammunition is producing only a quarter of the bullets needed by the occupation forces. (12) This means that every time another Iraqi is killed by a .223 caliber bullet or a 7.62 mm bullet or a .50 caliber bullet coming from American automatic weapons, the question needs to be asked: were they killed by ammunition made by a company our pension funds have investments in? The odds are overwhelming that the answer will be yes.

AIRCRAFT : BC IMC holds $92,617,708 in stock from 8 of the top 10 aircraft manufacturers in the US – Lockheed, United Technologies, Raytheon, Rockwell, General Dynamics, Boeing, Northrup/Grumman and Textron–as well as a further $4,853,721 in the British aerospace firm BAE Systems. Together these corporations make virtually every aircraft used in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, including the C-130 gunships used in the siege of Fallujah, F-14, F-15, F-16 and F/A18 fighters, the AV8B Harrier, the F-117 Stealth fighter, B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers, EA6B attack aircraft and reconnaissance aircraft like the E-3 Sentry and the U-2 spy plane. (13)

HELICOPTERS : BC IMC holds $230,353,722 in stock of five corporations that make transport and attack choppers for the US Armed Forces. These companies manufacture the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter (a consortium of Boeing and General Electric), the OH-58D Kiowa attack helicopter (Bell-Textron), the UH-60 Blackhawk (United Technologies) and the Vietnam-era UH-1 Huey troop transport and gunship (a consortium of Bell-Textron and Samsung). (14)

MISSILES : BC IMC holds $176,304,307 in stock from eight companies that supply missiles to the Pentagon (Raytheon, General Motors, British Aerospace (BAE), Texas Instruments, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, General Electric and Daimler-Chrysler). Between them these companies make at least 17 different missiles, including the AIM-7 Sparrow, AGM-88A HARM, AIM-132, AGM-65 Maverick, AIM-54 Phoenix, AIM-120 Slammer, AGM-45 Shrike, AGM-89 SRAM, AGM-142 HAVE-NAP and AIM-9 Sidewinder, as well as the anti-aircraft Stinger missile and the anti-armor TOW missile carried by ground troops. (15) At least four of the missiles made by these companies are used for delivery of nuclear weapons: Raytheon’s AGM-158 JASSM and BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile, British Aerospace’s Apache cruise missile, and Boeing’s AGM-86 cruise missile. (16) It should also be noted that General Electric manufactures components for at least one nuclear weapon, the B-61. (17)

BOMBS AND LANDMINES : Our provincial pension plans hold $71,868,348 worth of investments in 8 corporations that between them supply at least 16 different bombs to the US Armed Forces, including the BLU-109 Thermobaric bomb, the GBU-28 Bunker Buster, the Hydra 70, the M-26 and M-39, the GBU-10, -12 and -16, and the Paveway III smart bomb, among others. (18) This also includes Honeywell’s CBU-89 Gator and CBU-87 CEM, both of which are landmine delivery systems. (19) Despite the international ban on landmines (to which Canada is at least nominally a signatory), our pension funds include holdings worth $53,375,394 in no less than five landmine manufacturers, including Honeywell. The others are Lockheed-Martin, which produces the M-26, ADAM, GEMSS, M-74 and CBU-78, as well as the WCMD delivery system (20); Raytheon, which manufactures the BLU-92B (21); Texas Instruments, which makes the M-87 and BLU-92B (22); and Rockwell, which also manufactures the BLU-92B as well as the M-87 (23).

DEPLETED URANIUM WEAPONS : BC IMC also has significant holdings (worth a total of $170,469,986) in stocks of manufacturers of depleted uranium weapons and delivery systems. These are Lockheed, whose GBU-28 bomb contains 1.5 metric tonnes of DU (24); Texas Instruments, who make the GBU-24 and GBU-27; Boeing, which produces the GBU-31 (25); and Northrup/Grumman, which makes the GBU-37B (26). Delivery systems include Boeing’s AH64 Apache attack chopper (27) and F-15 Strike Eagle (28). Lockheed-Martin’s subsidiary General Dynamics manufactures the US Armed Forces’ main battle tank, the M1A1 Abrams, which relies on DU munitions (29). And, not least, General Electric manufactures the GAU-8 cannon (30). The A-10 Warthog antitank attack aircraft is literally built around this 30mm cannon which is probably the single largest user of depleted uranium in the whole US armory (31).

A complete listing of these 251 companies is available at www.leftturn.ca.

What all of this means is that if you’re a nurse or a physiotherapist or a floor cleaner or a pharmacist in any hospital in the province, if you’re a kindergarten teacher or a university professor, if you work on a garbage truck in Kamloops or programme computers at city hall in Victoria, if you work for ICBC, if you’re a firefighter, if you’re a ferry worker or a BC Transit driver, if you work for BC Hydro, or if you’re a provincial government employee – if you’re one of the more than 350,000 British Columbians whose pension plan investments are made by the BC IMC – your pension contributions are being used to finance the war in Iraq.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan are an issue in this election. Left Turn calls for the B.C. government to immediately take steps to ensure the B.C. Investment Management Corporation divests its holdings in all 251 of these corporations. We call on all other candidates in this election who claim to oppose the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan to demand the BC IMC stop investing in war profiteers, and we particularly call on Carol James and Adrienne Carr to commit the NDP and Green Party to opposing this complicity in butchery.

We also ask all of you who are members of any of the pension plans in question to approach your union, inform it of this situation, and demand that it take up the call to dump these stocks. The unions whose members’ pensions funds are investing in the occupation include the BC Government and Service Employees Union, the Hospital Employees Union, the BC Nurses Union, the Health Sciences Association of BC, VESTA, the BC Teachers Federation, the International Association of Fire Fighters, CUPE local 873 (EHS paramedics), Canadian Auto Workers local 111 (BC Transit and Coast Mountain bus drivers), the BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union, COPE local 378 (ICBC and BC Hydro employees) and the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators.

Will Offley is running in the provincial election in the riding of Vancouver-Hastings.

Notes

1) The Lancet, Volume 364, #9448, at www.thelancet.com/journal/vol364/iss9448/contents.

2) British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, Annual Report 2003-2004, p.33.

3) See the complete list of these BC IMC pension holdings at www.leftturn.ca. They are listed in the inventory of B.C. IMC holdings as of March 31, 2004, available http://www.bcimc.com/investments/default.asp. To access the PDF file, click on “bcIMC Inventory, March 31, 2004".

4) Center for Public Integrity, “Outsourcing The Pentagon - Directory”, on the web at www.publicintegrity.org/pns/list.aspx?act=dir.

5) Ammunition - www.publicintegrity.org/pns/list.aspx?act=topcat&caid=13

6) Fuel and lubricants - www.publicintegrity.org/pns/list.aspx?act=topcat&caid=91

7) Missiles - www.publicintegrity.org/pns/list.aspx?act=topcat&caid=14

8) Armour - www.publicintegrity.org/pns/list.aspx?act=topcat&caid=23

9) Weapons - www.publicintegrity.org/pns/list.aspx?act=topcat&caid=10

10) Aircraft - www.publicintegrity.org/pns/list.aspx?act=topcat&caid=15

11) Chris Spannos, “Canadian Bullets, Dead Iraqis”, Zmag, September 8, 2004, on the web at www.kootenaycuts.com/archive/?7238. See also Matther Behrens, “Canadian Firms Insure Profitable Bloodshed In Iraq, Afghanistan, Philippines, and Other War Zones in War Against Freedom”, at Homes Not Bombs, www.homesnotbombs.ca .

12) Spannos.

13) Richard Sanders, Coalition To Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT), “Operation Embedded Complicity – Canada, Playing Our Part In The Business Of War”, in Press For Conversion, #52, October 2003, pp. 11, 13-14, 16, 17-21, 24 and 26.

14) COAT, pp. 12, 24, 26-27.

15) COAT, pp. 14, 32-35.

16) COAT, pp. 14, 32-33.

17) COAT, p.33.

18) COAT, pp.34-36.

19) COAT, p.34.

20) Human Rights Watch, “Exposing The Source – U.S. Companies And The Production Of Antipersonnel Mines”, April 1997, at http://hrw.org/campaigns/mines/index.html . See also Richard Sanders, “Are Canadians Contravening The Global Ban On Antipersonnel Landmines?”, at http://coat.openconcept.ca/cpp/overcoat/sanders-antipersonnelmines.html

21) Human Rights Watch and Sanders, “Are Canadians Contravening...”

22) Human Rights Watch, Sanders.

23) Human Rights Watch, Sanders.

24) Marc W. Herold, “Uranium Wars: The Pentagon Steps Up Its Use Of Radioactive Munitions”, at www.cursor.org/stories/uranium.html .

25) Herold.

26) Herold.

27) Herold.

28) Herold.

29) Herold.

30) COAT, p.35.

31) Herold.

Home Features David and Goliath Stop smirking, Bettman Books this week Essays & Reviews The Big Sellout Operation Filmmaker Salud!

Word Up! Magazine