Back to top

CAUT Bulletin Archives

May 2006

McGill University Divests from Companies with Ties to Burma

Student activists have won an important struggle at McGill University, convincing the board of governors to divest stocks of any companies doing business in Burma.

McGill is the first university in Canada to take this step, following the lead of several American universities. The last time McGill took such a stand was in the mid-1990s over apartheid in South Africa.

The board passed a resolution committing to “disposing of in an orderly fashion” any investments in companies judged to cause social harm in Burma, avoiding such investments in the future and voting in favor of shareholder resolutions that call on companies to disclose and justify their actions in Burma.

McGill’s Burma Solidarity Collective claims there are about nine companies in McGill’s portfolios to which the ethical investment framework should apply.

“Students such as those at McGill University hope that cutting off investments in transnational corporations doing business in Burma sends the message that we will not continue to be the economic lifeline of this brutal regime,” said Kevin McLeod, from Canadian Friends of Burma in Ottawa.

The collective has been campaigning for four years to prevent money going to Burma’s military rulers and has gathered the support of more than 1,500 students and 100 tenured faculty members on petitions in support of their divestment proposal, which was presented to the board of governors last year.

The board created a committee to advise on matters of social responsibility, and the case of Burma was the first to be considered.