Bishop Jenks spoke about the genocide by the governing forces in Sudan and the denial of the rights of the people living in Southern Sudan. He also reported on a visit of church leaders to Sudan, saying that all of those observers realized the accusation that the Government of Canada has been using royalties from oil for the purpose of war are accurate. Talisman Energy Inc. is a Canadian company which is involved in oil exploration and development in Sudan. Bishop Jenks told his colleagues that the pension fund of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada has 2.5 million dollars invested in Talisman. He put a motion on the floor encouraging the pension fund to disinvest in Talisman Energy Inc.
That this House of Bishops express to the Trustees of the Pension Fund, our concern regarding continuing investment in Talisman Energy Inc., and our request that all necessary steps be taken immediately to develop a schedule for disinvestments from Talisman Energy Inc. CARRIED Res. #HB-10-04-01
In the context of continuing work to stop oil development in Sudan, the Council of the General Synod requests the Treasurer to sell the shares of Talisman Corporation owned by the General Synod. Motion Withdrawn
In the context of the continuing work to stop oil development in Sudan, the Council of the General Synod requests the Socially Responsible Investment Group to meet as soon as possible to investigate the sale of shares in Talisman Corp. owned by the General Synod. If the sale is recommended, the Treasurer is authorized to sell the shares. If the sale is not recommended the discussion and recommendation will be reported to May 2000 Council meeting. CARRIED #24-99-11
[Corrected text of hard copy minutes from Errata Sheet.]
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.]