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 Not only would the completion of this project serve to further entrench an outdated carbon economy in the United States (to the detriment of climate change action in the Paris Agreement/Accord de Paris which both the U.S.A. and Canada have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 arrested1 and attacked2 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 sites3;
  • 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 construction4;
  • An Energy Transfer Partners subcontractor has injured a protester by running her over with his vehicle while firing live bullets into the air5;
  • 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 protesters6;
  • 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 arm7.

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.

Creative Commons LicenceThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Under the Influence

Zuckerberg (again):

That [Facebook] influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea.

The New York Times,  November 4, 2014:

In the 2010 election, similar nudging by Facebook resulted in 340,000 additional votes nationwide…

Facebook’s get-out-the-vote tests have come under scrutiny because of the company’s potential to sway elections if it were to selectively urge voters in certain areas and not others to vote.

So which is it?

A Note About Facebook

So, Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States.

Lots of the discussion of last night’s events among my circle of friends has taken place, as things do these days, on Facebook. One of the largest individual contributors to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was Peter Thiel, billionaire co-founder of PayPal. He sits on the board of Facebook.

Facing internal criticism about Thiel’s presence on the board in the wake of his campaign contribution, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote:

I want to quickly address the questions and concerns about Peter Thiel as a board member and Trump supporter… We can’t create a culture that says it cares about diversity and then excludes almost half the country because they back a political candidate. There are many reasons a person might support Trump that do not involve racism, sexism, xenophobia or accepting sexual assault.

So that’s what a culture of diversity looks like? I wish to hell we had a different place to hang out, friends.