Presents another petition urging McGill to lose investments in fossil-fuel industry
By McGill Reporter Staff
The Board of Governors was presented with a birthday cake and giant birthday card Monday when 10 representatives of Divest McGill attended the open portion of the Board meeting to underscore their updated petition urging the University to sell off investments connected with the fossil-fuel industry. Another group was able to watch the video feed of the meeting from the multi-media offices in Burnside Hall.
The petition itself, now containing more than 1,400 names, had been submitted to Board Chair Stuart H. “Kip” Cobbett and Stephen Strople, McGill’s Secretary-General, earlier in the day. Divest McGill also submitted a 150-page brief on research concerning the danger fossil fuels pose to the planet.
Cobbett, noting that it seemed to be “a rather substantial petition,” told the delegation at the Board meeting that this petition, like the previous one submitted in 2013, would be forwarded to the Board’s Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility.
That committee had decided that the earlier version of the petition did not prove the social harm required for it to make a recommendation to the Board. The committee’s terms of reference have since been revised and it now acts in a more pro-active fashion, including its desire to conduct a study on ethical investment, including best practices followed by other universities. The launch of the study is dependent on a positive response to a funding request to McGill’s Sustainability Fund.
The cake and card were references to Divest McGill’s second birthday. The group, made up mostly of students, but with a number of professors, is part of a larger worldwide campaign to discourage investment in the extraction of fossil fuels.
The petition reads:
“We, the undersigned members of the McGill community, call on the Board of Governors to mandate:
“1) That the Office of Investments immediately begin to dispose, in an orderly and responsible fashion, of the University’s holdings in corporations which develop the Canadian tar sands, transport or refine hydrocarbon from the Canadian tar sands, sell any product of the Canadian tar sands, or are otherwise involved in the production, distribution, transportation or sale of goods from the Canadian tar sands, as determined by the Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility.
“2) That the Office of Investments dispose, in an orderly and responsible fashion in no longer than three years, of the University’s holdings in corporations which produce, refine, transport, or sell fossil fuels, as determined by the Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility.”