Enbridge is in trouble. At the annual meeting this May large numbers of Enbridge’s shareholders threw their weight behind two shareholder resolutions despite the recommendations of the company’s Board to vote against them.
Both resolutions targeted the company’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker project, which would export Alberta tar sands to Asia.
Together the two resolutions received the support of shareholders worth billions of dollars.
The first resolution was filed by Dogwood in partnership with some of our supporters who hold Enbridge stock. We wanted Enbridge to estimate the frequency and volume of inevitable spills from oil tankers and pipelines needed for the Northern Gateway project. Oil spills from both pipelines and oil tankers cause damage and cost money, and Enbridge has a history of spills. The resolution called for Enbridge to estimate the frequency and volume of expected spills of oil and condensate as well as the financial risk to the company itself. A win-win for investors and affected communities.
And enough of a good idea to garner over 23 million votes, representing 11% of the entire company, or over $800 million at the share price on the day of the meeting.
Dogwood Shareholder Proposal
|Votes For (#)||Votes For (%)|
Shareholders threw even more weight behind a second resolution brought by Ethical Funds. Resolution #2 asked Enbridge to do a better job disclosing information that investors need to assess the potential for First Nations to squash the project through opposition (e.g. like that expressed at the meeting itself – beginning pg. 13). It also suggested that Enbridge examine adopting a policy of free, prior, and informed consent, as outlined in Article 28 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This resolution was supported by a favorable vote recommendation by Risk Metrics, a company that advises institutional investors on proxy issues. Almost 70 million shares were voted in favour, representing almost 33% of votable shares.
Ethical Funds Shareholder Proposal
|Votes For (#)||Votes For (%)|
Neither resolution passed, but votes worth a combined total of about $3.5 billion swung their way.
Dogwood’s first ever shareholder resolution was a resounding success! It raised the profile of the cloud of concerns swirling around Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project in a way that benefits our No Tankers campaign AND investors.
Dogwood Initiative is preparing for next year’s AGMs for Enbridge, and other coalbed methane and tar sands promoters.
What You Can Do
Dogwood partnered with five of our supporters to file this resolution. They can now officially be considered shareholder activists! And so can you. If you own shares in a company make sure that you are set up to receive their proxy circular materials every year. This will allow you to vote for progressive shareholder proposals, and to assign your right to attend the meeting to activists working for change.
The satisfACTION blog is about activism in BC – the methods, theories, and stories of how people are working together for more perfect communities . Ever felt a need to change things, but don’t know where to start? I’ll showcase opportunities for personally satisfying and meaningful actions. Read the intro to the blog here.