A LIGHTNING ROD FOR THE CANADIAN DIVESTMENT CAMPAIGN GOES UP
The University of Toronto sets the stage for Canada-wide campus divestment campaign
Eric Reeves [February 24, 2000]
Smith College 413-585-3326
Northampton, MA 01063 email@example.com
Once the debate about divestment from Talisman Energy shareholding becomes a passionate cause among Canadian university students and faculty, there will be a source of fierce and ongoing and increasingly visible criticism that Hill & Knowlton couldn’t begin to “firewall” off. Perhaps it’s knowledge of just this fact that has chief Talisman PR flunky David Mann collapsing into absurdity.
Just how long does anyone think that Mr. Mann will retain a shred of credibility when he declares that civil war in Sudan is mainly “intertribal” (see article from a December 9th University of Toronto Varsity below)?
Perhaps there’ve been just too many rough (and ongoing!) TLM trading sessions for Mr. Mann. First he forgets the Talisman company line (i.e., that reports of human rights abuses and immense human destruction, including those from the UN Special Rapporteur, are–according to Boss Buckee–“lurid exaggeration” and “hearsay.”). Then he shamelessly endorses that scorched-earth warfare that is creating the “sanitized” security corridor that serves his company’s “number one priority”: “employee safety” [sic!].
In fact, we can believe Mr. Mann here: Talisman’s “number one priority,” in a country where 2 million have died in ongoing civil war and 5 million are refugees or internally displaced, IS employee safety. Because Talisman knows that if the armed resistance of the south should kill Talisman workers (at least Canadian nationals), they would be forced out as Chevron was 17 years ago when their workers were killed by the armed resistance in the south.
Oil analysts, as an article from today’s Globe and Mail makes clear—want Sudan to go awayfar, far away from balance sheet issues.
It’s only bearing down more insistently.
[from the University of Toronto “Varsity” newspaper
on Thursday, December 9, 1999]
“University of Toronto holds millions in controversial Talisman Energy”
Concerned faculty calls for divestment
By Nicola Luksic, Varsity Staff
The University of Toronto has millions of its pension and endowment funds sunk in Talisman Energy Inc. shares. By the end of October, $7.8 million was invested in the oil company that has been criticized for its interests in Sudan, where to date close to two million people have lost their lives during the bitter civil war.
“The university should provide a symbolic statement stating their desire to
withdraw,” said University of Toronto professor emeritus Martin Klein. “Talisman is sitting on one of the central battlefields.” Talisman is reaping the benefits of a large Sudanese petroleum basin to the south west of the country, close to the heart of much of the conflict.
“The war has been absolutely monstrous,” said Klein. “This is what Talisman
has marched into.”
Of the Talisman profits made in the Sudanese oil fields, 60 percent goes to
the Sudanese government. Of that portion, 25 percent is given to the
national Islamic government in Khartoum that has been lethally targeting
Talisman acknowledges the terrible state existing in Sudan and washes its
hands of its suggested involvement.
“In terms of human rights stuff and casualty rates, it’s horrific and we
recognize that,” said David Mann, Talisman manager of investor relations.
He insists that the company has no influence on the war-torn nation’s
politics, arguing that the conflict is largely “intertribal.” “The root cause [of the conflict] is lack of economic development and infrastructure,” he said, adding that he thinks Talisman is actually helping the Sudanese. Talisman has sponsored a 60-bed hospital and arranged for immunizations.
Talisman has also requested that the 35km radius around its plant be
cleared of civilians.
“People tend not to live in that area anyway,” said Mann, adding that much
of the region is swampy.
Talisman has about 135 employees on the project whose lives have recently been threatened by rebel forces. Mann ensures that they will be protected at all costs.
“Employee safety is our number one priority,” he said.
Two weeks ago the Ontario Teachers federation threatened to pull its
pension investments from Talisman. Klein is pressuring University of Toronto to follow suit. Although University of Toronto’s Faculty Association has not taken an official position on the Talisman investment, president Bill Graham says that the University of Toronto should be extremely conscientious in directing its funds.
“University of Toronto funds should be invested ethically,” said Graham.