Ending Violence in Sudan: Bishops ask that Canada Pension Fund Money Not Be Invested in Talisman Energy

Sunday, April 07 2002

Honourable Bill Graham
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0G2

Dear Mr. Graham:

In writing to you for the first time in your role as Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, please be assured of our most prayerful good wishes as you address the many complicated issues that our country must face on the world scene.

In a meeting that took place on November 21, 2001, between your predecessor, the Honourable John Manley, and Bishop Jacques Berthelet C.S.V., President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), Mr. Manley invited the Catholic bishops to maintain contact with the government concerning possible future Canadian actions that might help resolve Sudan’s horrific civil strife. It is for this reason that I address this communication to you today.

The Social Affairs Commission of the CCCB has monitored the desperate situation in Sudan for some time now. A member of our Commission, Bishop Donald Thériault, represented our Conference on a mission to Sudan last year, and we reciprocated by assisting in the visit of a Sudanese bishop to Ottawa. Most helpfully, members of the Catholic Sudanese community in Canada have kept us aware of the ongoing suffering of their people.

We have become convinced that the exploitation of Sudan’s oil resources, with the direct partnership of Canadian companies like Talisman Energy Inc. with the Khartoum regime, has become a contributing factor to the continuance of war in the Sudan. To that end, we believe that it would be a crucially important, not to mention highly symbolic, step for the federal government to redirect its Canada Pension Plan (CPP) investment in Talisman. (Our Conference has already done this with its own investment portfolio some time ago.)

The members of the Social Affairs Commission request that an efficient ethical screen be put in place for all CPP investments, and that the Canadian government develop and implement measures that prevent any Canadian company from profiting from civil conflict in other parts of the globe. Not only does Canada’s good name require that such measures be put into place, our shared moral responsibility demands it.

Mr. Graham, as we joyfully keep this Easter season, the attention of Christians is directed toward the celebration of new life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The negotiation of a just peace in Sudan would also herald the possibility of new life in very concrete terms for a population that has long yearned for this. We look forward to your response in helping us to understand how the Government of Canada will act to help make peace in Sudan a reality.

Sincerely yours,

+ Most Reverend Jean Gagnon
Auxiliary Bishop of Quebec
Apostolic Administrator of Gaspé
Chairman, Episcopal Commission for Social Affairs