BREAKERS – timely tidbits

BREAKERS – timely tidbits and follow-ups to previously published stories:

  • AB retiree pension funds plummet
  • Grand Prix d’Art race on!
  • Feds say no to Mosaic

Alberta public sector pension fund manager AIMCo loses billions

Of interest to Alberta public sector workers who have retired to Qualicum Beach, the Globe and Mail reports that the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) will have a new Chairman, Mark Wiseman, starting July 1, 2020. Mr. Wiseman was terminated in December from his previous job as global head of active equities at BlackRock Inc., which oversees US$7-trillion, for violating the New York-based fund manager’s code of conduct by failing to report a relationship with a co-worker.

AIMCo oversees $119 billion on behalf of 31 clients, including pension plans for Alberta Health Services workers, the Local Authorities Pension Plan (hospitals, colleges, school boards, municipal governments), and the Heritage Savings Trust Fund. Two of its senior executives, Peter Pontikes and David Triska, are “no longer employed with AIMCo”. Sources who work with AIMCo and its clients said the two former executives were directly responsible for AIMCo’s recent $2.1 billion loss on derivatives-based investments tied to market volatility.

Earlier this year, the Canadian Press reported that the Alberta Federation of Labour, Alberta’s largest labour organization, says public-service pensions are being used to prop up the province’s struggling fossil fuels industry at a time when many large investment funds are moving away from the sector. “We’re afraid they’re going to use our pension savings to fund a political agenda rather than invest those funds in a way that’s responsible,” said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

Meanwhile, AIMCo has recently expanded its ownership of extractive industries in BC. Since 2005, Island Timberlands has been owned by AIMCo (50%) and by the manager of the BC public sector pension plans, BC Investment Management Corporation (50%).

Earlier this month, as reported in The Narwhal, TC Energy (previously known as Trans-Canada Pipeline) dumped 65% of its stake in the Coastal GasLink pipeline here in BC to – you guessed it – AIMCo and KKR, manager of Korean pension plans.


27th annual Grand Prix d’Art painting race is back on!

The Old School House (TOSH) Arts Centre in downtown Qualicum Beach WILL be running its popular annual Grand Prix d’Art race, adjusted slightly for COVID-19.

Starting Friday July 3rd and continuing every Friday during July and August, this year’s Grand Prix will host a smaller number of painters over a longer period of time.

Every Friday between the hours of 9am and 3pm, painters will be at their easels in several locations around Qualicum Beach’s downtown core, all within walking distance of TOSH. As many Grand Prix d’Art afficionados will know, painters must complete their paintings (of something that is visible from or inspired by their assigned location) within three hours. The public is encouraged to observe the painters, at a safe distance, as their artworks progress to the finished state.

The collected 27th annual Grand Prix d’Art paintings will be hung in TOSH’s Dorothy Francis Gallery until September 28th, but since the TOSH building is still not open to the public, the works will only be displayed digitally.

Voting for the Peoples’ Choice Award will take place in September. In the “it’s-never-too-early-to-be-thinking-about-the-holiday-season” category, readers take note that TOSH usually publishes a calendar in the fall of selected paintings from each year’s Grand Prix d’Art event, just in time for gift giving!


Federal government says NO to Mosaic Forest Management

A previous article in Second Opinion QB reported on concerns about Mosaic Forest Management’s attempt to be exempted from the existing federal log export regulation known as Notice 102.

According to Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, Mosaic’s attempt was unsuccessful. “We have a commitment from the federal government that they won’t be making any changes around federal Notice 102 or circumnavigating the timber export advisory committee,” Johns said May 29, 2020 after attending the official opening of San Group’s HewSaw mill in Port Alberni, B.C.

“That’s good news because fibre that’s coming from our forests should be always given first access and priority to our local mills and processors and manufacturers.”

Business in Vancouver reported this week that a coalition of B.C. unions, environmental groups and mill operators recently sent a letter to federal international trade minister Mary Ng asking Ottawa to reject the proposal by Mosaic Forest Management to lift the limit on raw log exports. The group consists of unions Unifor and the Public and Private Workers of Canada (PPWC), as well as mills-sector firm San Group Inc. and non-profits such as the Wilderness Committee and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

“If you can’t manufacture trees you cut down into lumber products here in B.C., you shouldn’t be logging them,” said Wilderness Committee national campaign director Torrance Coste in a statement. “We do not want the log export rules weakened, even temporarily. In fact, we believe they’re too weak to begin with.” In the letter to Minister Ng, San Group CEO Kamal Sanghera reportedly said his company – as one of the few firms investing in new mills in B.C., with $150 million being spent to build new facilities at Port Alberni – is not opposed to all raw log exports, but domestic demand should be satisfied first for the health of the entire provincial industry’s ecosystem. “Changing the rules cannot be at the expense of domestic producers and our forests,” Sanghera said in the letter. “If we want jobs in B.C. mills, then domestic producers need access to resources.”


Breakers rolling in at Qualicum Beach Waterfront promenade.