BC Investment

BC`s unethical investments not smoking hot

BC Investment Management Corporation may come to regret its rush to invest in big tobacco firms. After adding shares in eight of nine tobacco stocks in fiscal 2012, bcIMC had $237 million more invested in cigarette manufacturers. I can`t determine if they are still buying but eight of the nine companies in the portfolio have been less than smoking hot. Each of those lost per share value or stayed flat in the first six months of the current fiscal year. Those results may soon worsen.

Tobacco companies ordered to admit they lied over smoking danger, Reuters in Washington via The Guardian, November 28, 2012

“Major tobacco companies who spent decades denying they lied to the US public about the dangers of cigarettes must spend their own money on a public advertising campaign saying they did lie, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

“The ruling sets out what might be the harshest sanction to come out of a historic case that the Justice Department brought in 1999 accusing the tobacco companies of racketeering.

“US District judge Gladys Kessler wrote that the new advertising campaign would be an appropriate counterweight to the companies’ “past deception” dating to at least 1964.

“The advertisements are to be published in various media for as long as two years…”

Note: value increases in fiscal 2012 result primarily from purchases of additional shares in the companies

Categories: BC Investment, Ethics

4 replies »

  1. “…must spend their own money on a public advertising campaign saying they did lie, a federal judge ruled…”

    So, can we hope one day a federal judge will rule the BC Liberals lied about BC Rail?


  2. I'd settle for nullification of BC Rail's sale, compensation for lost revenue that would have accrued had British Columbians not been defrauded of their public-owned railway (the BC Liberal government clearly had no mandate to sell BC Rail, cooked the books to make it look like BCR was losing money when it wasn't and corrupted the bidding process with illegal insider favouritism and bribery.) And, finally, I would settle for prosecution, conviction and punishment to defray legal costs to us victims and to deter would-be perpetrators of crimes against the public weal.

    Like legal action against culpable tobacco companies taken in many jurisdictions, compelling BC Liberals involved with the corrupt sale of BCR to admit they lied or omitted to report lying they knew about will probably take a long time, the expense for which being weighed against the potential to recover some or all of the subject goo. If the prospect for recovery of BCR is good, perhaps less effort to get admissions of lying, of questionable sincerity or dubious deterrence, would be needed.

    It might be too much to ask a profession that must regularly listen to all kinds of requests and suggestions to judge for themselves whether they've exceeded the legal blood-snakeoil limit or to expect sincere contrition. As it is with the tobacco companies, the admission of lying is not primarily aimed at rehab but at finding the next legal steppingstone in pursuit of compensation to victims. Especially with regard to politicians, lying is akin to the limited liability of corporations, limiting the pursuit of conspiracy to commit what might be found, at the level of individual citizens, a crime. Yet, if such confessionals, no matter how petty, human, banal, serve to overturn the fraudulent sale of BCR, we will have also properly quelled the widespread, neanderthal sentiment that the conspirators should be lynched, as well as the temptation of all cornered conspirators to offer up one of their own for symbolic sacrificial, retribution.

    It seems almost impossible to measure the compensatory value of the BC Rail fiasco short of returning it to its rightful owners. If the would-be private owners have claims to make, let them bring it to open court. Somewhere between all the money they've made in the meanwhile, all the money BC citizens lost, all the public money spent by the BC Liberal government buying off potentially hostile witnesses, all the money spent propping up what remains of this disgraced regime and all the money it will take to settle the matter is a figure we will all have to live with. Presuming a less than satisfactory solution will probably require a less than tangible acceptance that , if the corrupt deal is overturned, damn sure it will deter privateers from taking advantage of politicians drunk on ideology. I would care less if the BC Liberals only feel sorry they got busted.


  3. I'd like take backs of the large blocks of lands formerly owned by BC Rail that got quietly moved to private owners. Selling the railroad was Gordon Campbell's favour to the McLean Group, an eternal corporate welfare bum, but he also was taking care of pals in the land development business. The business deal to build the Sea-to-Sky Highway was part of it too.

    The new Port Mann bridge will be extracting millions in tolls from drivers crossing the bridge but, somehow, the tolls (shadow tolls) on vehicles travelling Sea-to-Sky are paid out of general revenue. Wonder why? Much of the high value ex-BCR land is in the Howe Sound corridor, served by the highway.


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