An Open Letter to TD Canada Trust
Mr. Bob Dorrance, President & CEO, TD Securities PO Box 1, TD Bank Tower 66 Wellington Street West Toronto, ON M5K 1A2 Dear Mr. Dorrance: I am writing to explain to you my decision to close the bank account and cancel the credit card that I have held with TD Canada Trust since 2011. This is not a decision that I take lightly, and I want you to understand fully the reasoning behind it. When I opened an account with TD, I did so after evaluating the practices of major Canadian banks, particularly with respect to their stances on anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change and their respect, or lack thereof, for indigenous sovereignty and the duty to consult with indigenous peoples on matters which affect them. In your 2009 Environmental Management Framework, you declare that “Climate Change is a critical and long-term issue that will have a significant negative impact on the global economy and society if left unchecked” (Section IV) and state that “Aboriginal people should be able to provide free and prior informed consent on projects and activities affecting their communit[ies]” (Section V). TD Securities’ direct investment in Energy Transfer Partners’ $3.7B Dakota Access Pipeline, which would transport crude oil over 1,172 miles from North Dakota to Illinois, absolutely contradicts these stated policies. Not only would the completion of this project serve to further entrench an outdated carbon economy in the United States (to the detriment of climate change action in the Paris Agreement/Accord de Paris which both the U.S.A. and Canada have officially ratified or approved), but it has also faced principled and direct opposition from the Dakota Sioux of Standing Rock, North Dakota and other indigenous peoples since early 2016. In recent months:
- Police and Energy Transfer Partners private security have arrested and attacked multiple journalists in direct contravention of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution;
- Over 1,500 archaeologists, anthropologists and historians formally denounced the Dakota Access Pipeline project for its desecration of Sioux burial grounds and sacred sites;
- A complaint has been filed against Energy Transfer Partners by North Dakota state regulators for their failure to disclose the discovery of indigenous artifacts in the course of their construction;
- An Energy Transfer Partners subcontractor has injured a protester by running her over with his vehicle while firing live bullets into the air;
- Police use of water cannons in sub-zero temperatures this past weekend, alongside rubber bullets, tear gas and concussion grenades, has hospitalized at least seventeen protesters;
- During the same police retaliation against peaceful protesters this past weekend, a 21-year-old protestor, Sophia Wilansky, was struck with a concussion grenade which may result in the amputation of her left arm[^7.
I submit this list of events not in any way as complete documentation of how you and TD have failed to honour your commitments on environmental responsibility and indigenous justice, but as a general reflection of your failures at this crucial juncture in human history. You will not be judged kindly by future generations for having prioritized a return on short-term investments over the most basic of human rights and the long-term viability of our ecosystem. I hope that you will consider this letter and the images that accompany it with the gravity that they deserve, and I look forward to a meaningful response — the divestment of your investments in Energy Transfer Partners and the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Theodor Ned Zimmerman
P.S. I will be sharing this letter and communicating my decision to friends and family who, as TD Canada Trust account holders, may feel that the same action is warranted.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
“North Dakota Judge Throws Out Charges Against Journalist Amy Goodman" (Moyers & Company) ↩︎
"Journalist shot with rubber bullets during N.D. pipeline protests" (CBS News) ↩︎
"Archaeologists & Museums Denounce Destruction of Standing Rock Sioux Burial Grounds" (The Natural History Museum) ↩︎
"Dakota Access: company under scrutiny over sacred artifacts in oil pipeline's path" (The Guardian) ↩︎
"ND: 1 Injured After Armed Man Drives Truck Through Dakota Access Pipeline Protest" (Democracy Now!) ↩︎
"Police defend use of water cannons on Dakota Access protesters in freezing weather" (Washington Post) ↩︎