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Canada Pension Plan invests millions in private prison corporations

Image: WhisperToMe/Wikimedia Commons

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board holds $5.9 million of stock in two U.S.-based private prison corporations, Geo Group (formerly associated with Wackenhut Corrections Corporation) and CoreCivic (formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America).

The Crown corporation, which millions of Canadians outside of Quebec pay into for their retirement income, holds about $1.7 million in shares in Tennessee-based CoreCivic and about $4.2 million in shares in Florida-based Geo Group.

Documented and The Guardian jointly report, "One of Canada's biggest pension investment funds has increased holdings in two U.S. private companies that run American prisons and incarcerate the majority of detained immigrants."

Think Progress has previously reported that an average of 35,929 people per day were detained in immigration detention centres, with 73 per cent (26,240 people) held in facilities operated by private prison corporations.

The private prisons that hold people arrested for irregularly entering the United States are closely tied with Trump's racist anti-migrant agenda.

In November 2016, Truthdig reported, "Investments in the prison company CoreCivic Co. became 43 percent more valuable the day after Trump's election... The value of the correctional services company Geo Group rose 21 percent."

An August 2017 Truthdig article also noted, "CoreCivic and GEO Group ... both made large donations to the Trump campaign."

The New York Times has done a documentary video about these prisons and notes, "One picture of private prisons captured in the video includes barely edible food, indifferent health care, guard brutality and assorted corner-cutting measures."

The CPP Investment Board is a Crown corporation independent from the federal government but accountable to it. The federal Minister of Finance, currently Bill Morneau, appoints individuals to its 12-member Board of Directors.

A spokesperson for the pension plan says, "CPPIB's objective is to seek a maximum rate of return without undue risk of loss. This singular goal means CPPIB does not screen out individual investments based on social, religious, economic or political criteria."

That approach has enabled this country's public pension plan to also invest in the transnational mining corporation Goldcorp, the private, for-profit water company Anglian Water, and the tar sands oil company Laricina Energy Ltd.

Documented and The Guardian add, "CPPIB holds a $186m investment in ExxonMobil, a $202m investment in the tobacco giant Philip Morris International, $18.7m in the defense contractor General Dynamics and $36.8m in another defense contractor, Raytheon."

After Trump ordered the launch of 59 Raytheon-manufactured Tomahawk missiles on Syria in April 2017, an attack supported by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the company's market capitalization surged by more than $1 billion.

In her book Undoing Border Imperialism, author-activist Harsha Walia highlights that the foreign policies of northern countries create pressures that lead to forced migration and that militarized borders then further punish migrants seeking safety from those situations.

Canada's policies do lead to forced migration, the Trudeau government's intention to widen the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement would mean that more asylum seekers would be returned to the United States, and now this country's pension plan benefits from the incarceration of asylum seekers in for-profit prisons in the U.S.

Brent Patterson is a political activist and writer.

Image: WhisperToMe/Wikimedia Commons

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