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Canada’s banks continue to finance oil and gas

By Elizabeth Perry - Work and Climate Change Report, May 19, 2021

A report released at the end of April examines the performance and the links between Canada’s oil companies and the big banks which form Canada’s “comfortable oligopoly”: Royal Bank (RBC), Toronto-Dominion Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and the National Bank of Canada. Fossilized Finance: How Canada’s banks enable oil and gas production is written by Donald Gutstein and published by by the B.C. Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives as part of its Corporate Mapping Project. The report outlines the bank presence in the Canadian energy sector since the collapse of oil prices in 2014 – lending, underwriting, advising and investing. It also examines interlocking directorates, executive transfer, industry conference sponsorships and industry association memberships.This reveals different details than the international report, Banking on Climate Chaos, published by BankTrack in late March.

While acknowledging that the banks have begun to invest in some renewable energy projects, Fossilized Finance shows that this leopard has not changed its spots:

“In contrast to the need to reduce financing of fossil fuels, banks actually increased their lending and commitments to the industry by more than 50 per cent—to $137 billion—between 2014 and 2020. Toronto-Dominion, in particular, upped its lending by 160 per cent over the seven-year period, to nearly $33 billion in 2020. As well, banks have invested tens of billions of dollars in fossil fuel and pipeline company shares. Here, Royal Bank leads the pack with nearly $21 billion invested in the top 15 fossil fuel and pipeline companies as of November 2019. Banks continue to underwrite fossil fuel company stock and bond issues, and they continue to provide key advice on mergers, acquisitions and other corporate moves.”

Many of the researchers involved in the CCPA/Corporate Mapping Project have written chapters in Regime of Obstruction: How Corporate Power blocks Energy Democracy, a book edited by William Carroll and published by Athabasca University Press. Readers of the WCR may be particularly interested in Chapter 15, “From Clean Growth to Climate Justice” by Marc Lee, but all the excellent chapters are available for free download here. The publisher’s summary states: “Anchored in sociological and political theory, this comprehensive volume provides hard data and empirical research that traces the power and influence of the fossil fuel industry through economics, politics, media, and higher education. Contributors demonstrate how corporations secure popular consent, and coopt, disorganize, or marginalize dissenting perspectives to position the fossil fuel industry as a national public good. They also investigate the difficult position of Indigenous communities who, while suffering the worst environmental and health impacts from carbon extraction, must fight for their land or participate in fossil capitalism to secure income and jobs. The volume concludes with a look at emergent forms of activism and resistance, spurred by the fact that a just energy transition is still feasible. This book provides essential context to the climate crisis and will transform discussions of energy democracy.”

If you are outraged by what these researchers reveal, a personal option to switch banks is now made easier through the Bank Green website, launched in April in association with BankTrack. So far, Bank Green covers more than 300 banks globally, including only two “ethical banks” in Canada: Vancity, and Duca Credit Union. The website provides information for customers and encourages them to switch banks and divest from fossil fuels.

Video: How to Organize a General Strike

It fuckin worked! A reportback from MayDay 2014 in Montréal

By the Stimulator - Coop Média de Montréal, May 2, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Another demo, another slaughter, another May Day, another kettle, some might say. "Not so!" say I! The media and naysayers have already rolled out the narrative that the SPVM and their SQ allies were in full control and managed to swiftly put down any attempt to take the streets during the anti-capitalist May Day demo. This is an account of what I witnessed and it's in no way a complete portrayal of what went down in the streets of Montr€€éal this 1st of May. I welcome corrections, additions and comments so that we can get a clearer picture of what went down, and so that we can further our analysis on how to re-take the streets.

The context: Following the five months of sustained social upheaval during the 2012 student strike, the powers-that-be dropped the gauntlet, a repressive law known as réglement(?) P-6 that gives the cops broad powers to mass-arrest people taking part in unpermitted marches. The police did not rigorously enforce P-6 during the first few months following the fizzling of the strike, but in 2013 and 2014, the Montréal police have successfully used it to detain and ticket over a thousand comrades with fines of $600+ dollars. The cops' preferred tactic of detainment is the kettle, basically bringing in enough police to round up protesters and create what amounts to a cop fence. Comrades are then processed on-site or at the cop shop, given a ticket, and released.

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