Saskatoon SK, May 5, 2016 – Two institutional shareholders of Potash Corporation (TSX:POT) will present a shareholder proposal at the company’s annual meeting Tuesday May 10th, asking the company to commission and make public an independent assessment of its human rights responsibilities in relation to sourcing phosphate rock from Western Sahara.
Potash Corporation is now the world’s largest importer of phosphate rock from the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara, part of which is currently controlled by Morocco. Morocco’s claim of sovereignty over the Western Sahara is not recognized by the International Court of Justice or the United Nations, and serious human rights violations have been reported in the territory. It is sometimes called “Africa’s last colony”.
The Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland and OceanRock Investments Inc. (Meritas Jantzi Social Index® Fund) worked with the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE) to file the proposal. This is the second year shareholders have filed this resolution at the company.
“Since 2015 the legal and reputational risks related to extraction of resources from Western Sahara have steadily grown,” said Fred Pinto, CEO of OceanRock Investments Inc. “Conducting an assessment of the company’s actual and potential impacts is a long-overdue first step in human rights due diligence. As the international community’s attention is increasingly drawn to the conflict, this assessment is even more critical for shareholders.”
The company’s Board recommends a vote against the proposal, saying that “a distinction must be made between political issues and the legal and other responsibilities placed on companies operating in the region or having business relations with companies operating in the region.”
“There is a difference between a political approach – which Potash is not being asked to take – and a business approach, which any public company working in the Western Sahara is obliged to take,” said Sister Sheila O’Deaof the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland. “The question is not ‘how can Potash fix the situation in the Western Sahara?’ but ‘what are the actual and potential human rights impacts of Potash’s business operations on the Sahrawi people?’”
“Potash says it has done its due diligence, but no reports by independent parties have been made publicly available,” said Kevin Thomas, Director of Shareholder Engagement for SHARE. “The company has indicated that it is relying on two undisclosed reports prepared for the Moroccan state-owned company from which Potash purchases phosphate rock, as well as on visits by company officials. That’s neither independent nor transparent.”
The company’s Annual Meeting will be held in Saskatoon at 3:30pm local time on May 10.
The full text of the proposal is available at: http://bit.ly/24qYA5h
SHARE (Shareholder Association for Research & Education) is a Canadian leader in responsible investment services, research and education for institutional investors. Since its creation in 2000, SHARE has carried out this mandate by providing active ownership services, including proxy voting and engagement, education, policy advocacy, and practical research on issues related to responsible investment. Our clients include pension funds, mutual funds, foundations, faith-based organizations and asset managers across Canada. www.share.ca
About OceanRock Investments Inc.
OceanRock Investments Inc. is one of Canada’s fastest-growing Investment management organizations, managing $1.4 billion on behalf of Canadian investors. OceanRock offers a comprehensive range of managed portfolio solutions and individual funds to meet the needs of individual and institutional investors. OceanRock is dedicated to offering disciplined, risk-controlled diversified investment solutions to Canadian individual and institutional investors and has a core commitment to Responsible Investing through its Meritas SRI Funds. OceanRock Investments Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Qtrade Financial Group, which is a member of Desjardins Group, Canada’s largest and the world’s fifth largest cooperative financial group. OceanRock is a Sustaining Member of the Responsible Investment Association. https://www.qtrade.ca/funds.jsp
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About the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland
The Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland is a congregation of women religious who live and minister according to the spirit of our foundress, Catherine McAuley. Catherine’s gift of Mercy shaped the story and ideals of the congregation she founded and became the hallmark of its mission and spirituality. Together Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland make a commitment to alleviate injustice and to continue to reach out in compassion and service to the poor and oppressed, especially to women. We seek to do this through our continued presence to the sick, elderly, poor, prisoners and people living with HIV and AIDS, the marginalised and through our sponsorship and contributions to numerous programs and projects not only in our province but also in the wider global community. http://www.sistersofmercynf.org/