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UPDATE: Council to challenge OTPP on Chilean water investments today

Council of Canadians water campaigner Emma Lui, Ontario-Quebec organizer Mark Calzavara, and Board member/ Peterborough-Kawarthas chapter activist Roy Brady will be in Toronto this afternoon to challenge Ontario Teachers Pension Plan investments in private Chilean water utilities. The OTPP owns 50.83 percent of the Chilean water utility Essbio and 69.4 percent of Esval. The OTPP will be holding its annual meeting today from 4:45 pm to 7 pm at the Arcadian Court at Bay and Queen streets.

The Council of Canadians has been encouraging teachers to attend this meeting, as well as to submit questions in advance on the OTTP’s investments in private Chilean water utilities. Today we will be leafleting teachers, encouraging them to sign our petition, and there may even be an opportunity to ask a question inside the annual meeting. The Council has been calling on the OTPP to divest from for-profit water utilities in Chile and for the ownership of these private, for-profit water utilities to be fully transferred back to public control. To read our special bulletin to Ontario teachers for today’s action – Why is your pension invested in for-profit water in Chile? – go to http://canadians.org/action/2011/OTPP-AGM.html.

Recently, we have expressed concern that Jorge Lesser García-Huidobro was named as the new president of the Essbio water utility board of directors. As a majority shareholder in Essbio, it can be presumed that the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan had some say in the selection of this former Coca-Cola Chile Board member to head the water utility. And we have been further concerned by the news that Chilean president Sebastian Piñera intends to sell the government’s minority stake in utilities Aguas Andinas, Essbio, Esval and Essal, in other words fully privatize these water utilities. It is not known if the OTPP intends to increase its ownership share of these water utlities.

Tomorrow, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will speak at the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) human rights forum in Toronto on this issue.

For campaign highlights against OTPP investments in private water, please see http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?s=ontario+teachers+pension+plan. Last September, Council of Canadians staff and chapter activists leafleted teachers on this issue at a professional development day at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto attended by 19,000 teachers and support staff.