Thursday, April 29, 2010

Send a clear message to the Royal Bank

I've had a long standing beef against the Royal Bank of Canada. It dates back to my university years when I joined every anti-corporate campaign I could, so I don't actually remember what it was all about. But a whole decade later, the RBC is back in the picture.

I am quite sure that the 1990s' campaign had to do with dubious investments touted by the RBC, and lo and behold! dirty investments are rearing their ugly heads again. "[The Royal Bank of Canada had been singled out by the Rain Forest Action Network as] the biggest single global investor [of the Alberta tar sands], to the tune of $17 billion since 2007" (New Internationalist, April 2010). 

Yes, folks, I am talking money again. While I understand that picking one's investments apart to look at the nitty-gritty can be time consuming and way more information than one would want to deal with, perhaps it is time we take our heads out of the sand and take a good look at our assets. I cannot believe that any of you truly feels comfortable about retiring with what amounts to dirty money.

Most of us cannot control where our employers choose to invest our pension money, but we decide where we put our savings. If you have a bank account with the Royal Bank, perhaps you would consider telling them you are very unhappy that they are financing the Alberta tar sands with your savings and are considering taking your money elsewhere. As individuals, we are small potatoes for the bank, but if there is a big enough number of RBC customers who voice their intent to move their money, perhaps CEO Gord Nixon will reconsider investing in the tar sands.

If you are not an RBC client (yay for you!), perhaps you can bring the subject up with the bank manager the next time you are there: you've entrusted your savings with them, therefore you have the right to know what they do with them.  Tell them you want to make sure that your money is not going towards financing industries you deem to be dirty. You've made every effort to live cleaner and greener, and you want your money to be the same.

It seems unlikely that the current Canadian government will do anything to stop the tar sands developments, so our only chance to save face as Canadians is to put pressure on corporations. 

Maybe you're asking yourself if you should be getting your financial advice from a food blogger... To those queries I answer that I am just like you. I have loads of things I would rather do than grill my financial advisor at the bank. Personally, I would rather not have to think about it, I've enough on my hands as it is. But whenever I see my nephew and my friends' young children, I like knowing that I am doing my utmost to leave them a clean planet. How I spend my money - on local produce, organic and fairtrade foods- and where I spend my money -in ethical and green investments- are just about the only way I can contribute, everything else is out of my hands.


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