It was proposed that a single motion be made for all of the resolutions remaining on the No Debate List. Synod, by a show of hands, indicated its acceptance of the proposal.
That this General Synod approve resolutions A179, A180, A251, A252, A253 and A254 Revised. CARRIED WITHOUT DEBATE Act 63
The text of the six resolutions passed by the omnibus motion, follow.
A179 Dialogue with the United Church of Canada
[That this General Synod welcomes the reestablishment of a formal dialogue relationship with the United Church of Canada and looks forward to receiving a report of progress at the General Synod of 2007.]
A180 Changes to Episcopal Services Language
[That this General Synod authorize changes to the Episcopal Services in the Book of Alternative Services to reflect gender inclusivity.]
[That this General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada:
a) Join with its Episcopal and ecumenical church partners in Cuba in calling for an end to the U.S. economic embargo of Cuba;
b) Urge the Government of Canada to maintain a foreign and trade policy towards Cuba that is independent from that of the U.S. and to offer to act as a mediator in the normalization of relations between Cuba and the U.S.]
[1. Request the General Secretary write to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs to:
a. Urge the Government of Canada to press the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the U.S., the UK, and Norway (The “Troika”), 1 and the Sudanese parties to the peace process to ensure that the final peace agreement is robust and comprehensive in the area of human rights.
b. Urge the Government of Canada to pursue all possible venues for the establishment of an international human rights monitoring team either within a UN mission, or operating under the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights or other international auspices. Canada should urge the parties, the Troika and other concerned countries to guarantee the diplomatic protection and funding necessary for the effective operation of this team. Canada should provide financial and technical support to UN and/or other international monitoring arrangements on human rights in Sudan.
Request the Primate to communicate to our partners in the Sudan (the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, the Sudan Council of Churches, and the New Sudan Council of Churches) our ongoing support and solidarity with the people of Sudan, as we pray that the peace process becomes irreversible and the warring parties proceed to the signing of a peace agreement.]
A253 Refugees and Immigrants
[That this General Synod:
1. Congratulate dioceses and parishes for 25 years of commitment to Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.
2. Call on dioceses and parishes to increase their commitment to the private sponsorship of refugees by increasing the number of refugees they are willing to sponsor annually.
3. Encourage those dioceses that are not Sponsorship Agreement Holders to participate in the sponsorship of refugees either by signing an agreement with the government of Canada and becoming Sponsorship Agreement Holders themselves or by considering a joint ecumenical effort where this is possible.
4. Call on Anglicans in Canada to continue welcoming refugees and immigrants into their communities.
5. Affirm the positive contributions refugees and immigrants have made and continue to make to the life of the Anglican Church and to Canada as a whole.
6. Challenge and denounce irresponsible and unsubstantiated linking of refugees and migrants to security concerns.]
A254 Rev. Sanctuary for Refugees
[That this General Synod request the creation of a working group within the next triennium to develop a policy for the national church that would enable parishes and dioceses to give prayerful consideration to the moral, ethical and legal challenges raised by requests for sanctuary from families and individuals whose claim for refugee status has been rejected by Canada’s refugee determination system—a system where errors happen, where there is no appeal on the merit of the case and where errors result in grave consequences for refugees facing return to countries where they fear for their lives. ]
TORONTO April 7, 2000 -- Canadian Anglicans who hold shares in Talisman Energy Inc. of Calgary are being asked to participate in a shareholder action arising from the company's business activities in Sudan.
The church has been in communication with Talisman since August 1998 in regard to concern that the company's oil development may be fueling the civil war in Sudan.
The shareholder proposal initiated by a coalition of church organizations and pension funds will be voted on at Talisman's annual meeting in Calgary, May 3 . It asks that Talisman provide an independently verified report on its compliance with the International Code of Ethics for Canadian Businesses and with internationally recognized human rights standards.
There has been ongoing concern that some of Talisman's activities in the Sudan may be linked to human rights violations. An estimated 10,000 people are killed each month in Sudan, in a civil war that has now lasted 17 years and claimed more than 2 million lives. The government of Sudan has been repeatedly cited for systematic human rights violations.
Talisman management has recommended against the shareholder proposal and initiate its own, less stringent proposal.
The full text of the Anglican Church's `Shareholder Action Alert' is contained at: [link] [also in Notes field in electronic database]
Talisman Energy's Management Circular, which contains the two shareholder proposals, is at: [link]
Canadian church action on with respect to corporate ethics is coordinated through the Task Force on Churches and Corporate Responsibility. Its web site is www.web.net/~tccr.
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Contact: Doug Tindal, Director of Information Resources, 416-924-9199 ext. 286; 905-335-8349 (residence); www.anglican.ca
TO: Diocesan Treasurers (please share with diocesan councils, others, as appropriate); Theological Schools Administrators (please share with others, as appropriate); Members of COGS and National Committees (for information)
FROM: Jim Boyles, General Secretary, and Joy Kennedy, Coordinator for Ecojustice
RE: Talisman Energy Inc. Shares
Since August 1998, the Taskforce on the Churches and Corporate Responsibility (TCCR), of which the ACC is a member, has been in communication with Talisman Energy Inc. of Calgary about its business activities in Sudan, a country in the midst of civil war and with a record of extreme and persistent human rights abuses. Information from our partner churches on the ground, and published accounts in the government's Harker Commission Report verify the continuing violence being suffered in the region. In the face of allegations that the company's oil development in Sudan is fueling the civil war and leading to human rights abuses, church shareholders have asked the company to pledge its adherence to internationally accepted standards of human rights and to issue an independently verified report on its compliance with these standards.
CURRENT SHAREHOLDER PROPOSAL
There has been much discussion among churches and other investors about divestment of Talisman Energy Inc. shares. This `Action Alert' is only regarding shares currently held, and which will be held after Talisman's annual meeting.
A shareholder proposal from church and other shareholders that makes the request stated above has been filed with the company and will be circulated in the proxy materials and voted on at the annual meeting taking place in Calgary, Alberta, May 03, 2000.
Talisman Energy Inc. by its own description, is Canada's largest independent oil and gas producer, with revenues of approximately $1 billion annually and operations in Western Canada, the North Sea, Indonesia and Sudan. It has grown steadily over the last decade through the acquisition of smaller companies and is widely held by Canadian institutional investors. In August 1998, Talisman announced its plan to purchase Arakis Energy Corp. and thereby acquire an interest in the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company of Sudan (GNPOC).
TALISMAN IN SUDAN
Talisman Energy shares its 25 % interest in the GNPOC with China's National Petroleum Corp. (40 %), the Malaysian state petroleum company Petronas (30 %), and Sudan's state petroleum company Sudapet (5 %). GNPOC is developing a large oil basin in Southern Sudan and has constructed a 1500 km pipeline from the oilfields to port facilities in Northern Sudan. The pipeline became operational in September 1999. The oil development has transformed Sudan from a new importer into an oil exporter, and provides the Government of Sudan with revenue and foreign exchange.
CIVIL WAR AND VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Sudan is in the midst of a civil war that has caused approximately two million deaths in the last seventeen years. The ongoing death toll is estimated at 10,000 per month. Sudan is ruled by a regime that came to power in a coup. The Government of Sudan has been cited for gross and systematic violations of human rights by reports issued by the United Nations as well as respected international human rights NGOs such as Human Rights Watch, and by relief and development agencies operating in Sudan. The Government of Sudan prevents the delivery of relief aid to certain areas, and has been reported to have used chemical weapons and to have bombed villages, schools, hospitals and relief facilities. Peace negotiations under the auspices of the International Government Agency on Development (IGAD), a partnership of countries in the region, have been unsuccessful so far. Canada supports these efforts through the IGAD Partners' Forum. Senator Lois Wilson is Canada's special envoy to the peace process in Sudan.
WHY TALISMAN OPERATIONS ARE A CONCERN
The social impact of Talisman's operations in Sudan raise three levels of concern for investors:
1. Talisman's operations have been directly linked to human rights abuses. According to several independent human rights investigations, including one sponsored by the Canadian government (`Human Security in Sudan: The Report of a Canadian Assessment Mission' prepared by John Harker et al. for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, dated January 2000, released on 14 February 2000.)
2. New revenue from oil development flows to the Government of Sudan at a rate of approximately $1 million per day. Prior to this, the Khartoum regime struggled financially and evidence suggests that credit for future oil revenue may have been used to purchase war materials. By relieving fiscal pressure on Sudan's government, its capacity to fund and even expand war efforts is increased and its incentive to negotiate seriously is reduced.
3. Talisman's business presence in Sudan lends international legitimacy to the Sudanese regime. The company has repeatedly and publicly defended the Government of Sudan against charges of human rights abuses. Its presence has helped secure financial and technical resources for oil and other development.
The company has defended its actions in Sudan by denying human rights abuses in its oil operations, by claiming it is opening the country to Western values and by suggesting that the prosperity brought about by the development will be an incentive to peace. It has also claimed that its infrastructure benefits the local population. Ironically, the Canadian government mission led by John Harker reported that oil development infrastructure such as roads and an airfield assist government forces that have launched attacks on civilians, a finding which the company does not acknowledge.
A Talisman divestment campaign in the United States has resulted in sales of the company's stock be several large investors and the stock price is widely acknowledged to be under pressure. In Canada the company has been removed from the portfolios of socially screened mutual funds. Both the American and Canadian governments have indicated that sanctions against the company are under consideration, though statements by Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy indicate great reluctance to do so.
SHAREHOLDER AND OTHER INITIATIVES
Church shareholders have written to both company management and to the board of directors raising concerns about Talisman's operations in Sudan. A meeting between church shareholders and senior Talisman management took place in April 1999. Talisman refused to circulate a shareholder proposal filed in 1999 by Canadian and American churches, but representatives of church shareholders attended the company's annual meeting in May 1999 and raised concerns about its operations in Sudan during the question period. Church discussions, including a meeting with Talisman management and members of the New Sudan Council of Churches, have, throughout this time focussed on the issues of respecting human rights and on transparency and accountability in company operations.
Other church and non-governmental organizations have also engaged the company and the general public in debate about the human rights consequences of Talisman's involvement in Sudan. The Inter-Church Coalition on Africa has worked tirelessly with the media, the Canadian government and partners in Africa to bring the gravity of this situation to the attention of the public and to influence decision-makers to act responsibly. Significantly, in February 2000, World Vision, The United Church of Canada, the Steelworkers Humanity Fund and Project Ploughshares withdrew from negotiations with Talisman on the development of a human rights monitoring mechanism for company operations, citing the company's failure to acknowledge that its operations are linked to human rights abuses and the escalation of conflict in Southern Sudan.
Talisman Energy us a very widely held stock. It is in many kinds of funds, sometimes of registered shareholders, often of beneficial shareholders, and commonly pooled. The Anglican Church of Canada currently holds shares in its Pension Funds and in the Consolidated Trust Fund. It is quite likely that any religious or educational institutional education also has such holdings in its endowments, pension fund and other investments.
There is an opportunity to let your voice be heard if you own such shares.
The resolution of the fifteen filers, including churches, religious organizations and two large public pension funds from the U.S., calls on the company to
- issue within 180 days an independently verified report on the company's compliance with the International Code of Ethics for Canadian Business and with internationally accepted standards of human rights, including steps taken by the company to ensure, to the extent feasible, that revenues which are received by the Sudanese government from the company's involvement in the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company are not being used to finance the government's war efforts;
- provides shareholders a summary of the report and make the full report available to shareholders and the public upon request; and
- in consultation with an independent third party, develop and implement procedures for monitoring the company's compliance with the Code of Ethics for Canadian Business and with internationally accepted standards of human rights, and to issue annually to shareholders an independently verified report on the company's compliance.
Talisman's management will recommend to shareholders to vote against the proposal. In fact, they tried to get shareholders to change their demands and included a similarly-worded but different management proposal in the `Management Proxy Circular' to counteract this one. To avoid confusion: Exercise Caution when voting.
HOW ORGANIZATIONS ARE SUPPORTING THE SHAREHOLDER PROPOSAL
Representatives of the filers will move and second the acceptance of the shareholder proposal at the company's annual meeting in Calgary on May 03, 2000. TCCR members are arranging to vote their shares in favour of the proposal and providing proxies to representatives who will speak from the floor in the discussion. Other shareholders can ensure that any holdings they have are identified and, if possible, proxies acquired and voted in favour of the proposal. When those holdings are in a pooled fund, managers can be asked how they intend to vote, and asked to report after the meeting how they did vote. It is a fiduciary responsibility of such investors to carefully examine the evidence that is being put forward by partners on the ground and by investigators and witnesses, to ensure that the companies they invest in are operating in compliance with human rights standards and best practices.
To not vote, is in fact to vote against the proposal, following the company's negative advice. Therefore, it is important to vote and to give specific instruction to managers to do so.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
If your organization wishes to participate in this shareholder initiative or would like further information, please fill out the accompanying `Participation Form' and return it by fax ASAP. Meanwhile, contact your investment manager or adviser to ensure that you receive `Talisman's Management Proxy Circular'.
LIST OF FILERS
The fifteen filers include churches, religious organizations and two massive pension funds, including:
United Church of Canada
Sisters of Saint Ann
Scarboro Foreign Mission Society
Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc. (USA)
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
Fonds Esther Blondin (Sisters of Saint Anne)
Grandin Provident Trust
Missionary Oblates of Grandin Province
Ursuline Religious of the Diocese of London
Jesuits of Upper Canada
Daly Foundation (Sisters of Service)
General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church (USA)
Trustee Board of the Presbyterian Church of Canada
New York City Employee Retirement System
New York State Common Retirement Fund
TALISMAN'S RESPONSE TO THE 2000 SHAREHOLDER PROPOSAL
Talisman's management recommends to shareholders to vote against the shareholder proposal. In fact, they tried to get shareholders to change their demands to suit the company. The `Management Proxy Circular' includes a Commentary and a similarly-worded but different resolution of their own. Care must be taken to avoid confusion.
ACTIONS OF THE ANGLICAN CHURCH OF CANADA
This spring both the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund and Ecojustice Committees discussed this issue and asked that any shares held by General Synod or its Pension Fund be voted in favour of the shareholder proposal. This request has been sent to the Council of General Synod. A Socially Responsible Investment Group (SRIG) was formed recently, which includes representatives of the above committees, the Pension Trustees and the Financial Management and Development Committee. They are monitoring the situation and are supportive of voting the shares in favour of the shareholder proposal, and in support of our church colleagues. We expect a final decision from the latter two groups in the next few weeks.
The Ecojustice Committee met in March and asked that we circulate this letter and material to all dioceses and theological colleges, schools urging their consideration of this action.
[Text of Participation Form not included in the electronic database.]
1. Communicate to our partners in the Sudan (the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, the Sudan Council of Churches, and the New Sudan Council of Churches) our ongoing compassion and solidarity in their suffering;
2. Condemn Human Rights abuses by all parties to the conflict in Sudan, but particularly by the Government of Sudan, in view of overwhelming evidence of indiscriminate violence against civilians (particularly the aerial bombardment of civilians in southern and northeastern Sudan and in the Nuba Mountains), the denial of humanitarian assistance to civilian populations, incidents of chattel slavery, and the oppression of women.
3. Request the General Secretary to call upon the Canadian government and the United Nations to support actively efforts that will bring a just peace for all peoples of the Sudan.
The mover and seconder agreed to include in item #1 the wording "including the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the Sudan".
The amended resolution was then put and - CARRIED AS AMENDED. Act 40
Abstentions were noted from Chancellor David Wright, Captain Baxter Park, Captain Todd Meaker, Mr. Bryan Campbell and Canon Andrew Gates.
Item #1 above now reads:
1. Communicate to our partners in the Sudan (the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, the Sudan Council of Churches and the New Sudan Council of Churches, including the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the Sudan), our ongoing compassion and solidarity in their suffering;
1. Request the General Secretary write to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs to:
a. Urge the Government of Canada to press the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the U.S., the U.K., and Norway (The "Troika"), and the Sudanese parties to the peace process to ensure that the final peace agreement is substantial and comprehensive in the area of human rights.
b. Encourage the Government of Canada to:
- pursue all possible venues for the establishment of an international human rights monitoring team either within a UN mission, or operating under the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights or other international auspices.
- urge the parties, the Troika and other concerned countries to guarantee the diplomatic protection and funding necessary for the effective operation of this team.
- share in providing financial and technical support to UN and/or other international monitoring arrangements on human rights in Sudan.
2. Request the Primate to communicate to our partners in the Sudan (the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, the Sudan Council of Churches, and the New Sudan Council of Churches), our ongoing support and solidarity with the people of Sudan, as we pray that the peace process becomes irreversible and the warring parties proceed to the signing of a peace agreement. Act 67