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Access to Information

Under Quebec law, all public institutions are required to provide almost any document requested through an Access to Information request. Members of the McGIll community have received tons of interesting documents through this procedure, and now they are being made public on this website.

Browse by year and by topic using the Categories on the right, or search for specific information or documents.

A good resource for making ATI requests is McGill’s Personal File Inventory document, which has the location of all of their files. http://ge.tt/9j0ZDYP/v/0?c

If you have questions or comments, email me at christopher.bangs[at]mail.mcgill.ca.



Yearly releases of McGill’s holdings

FYI we’ve been posting yearly releases of McGill’s equity, bonds, and cash holdings. It’s at the same link as much of McGill’s other information. We usually request this data just after March 31st of every near.

With the collaboration of McGill staff, we have annual access to digital, .csv formatted copies of all their investments, including stock tickers and precise dollar amounts for all companies, as well as fully accounting for their corporate bonds, CUSIPs and ISIN numbers. It will be easy to search McGill’s investments and match them to live stock information.


This link does not contain information on McGill’s alternative investments.

Digital Copy of McGill’s Investments (and Much New Info)

On March 24th, 2016 McGill University released the most comprehensive and useful information it has ever released on their investments. For the first time, McGill has released digital, .csv formatted copies of all their investments, including stock tickers and precise dollar amounts for all companies, as well as fully accounting for their corporate bonds (Part 2). For the first time, it will be easy to search McGill’s investments and match them to live stock information.

In addition, McGill released investments since 2012 (part 1).

Also, in part 3 and 4, McGill released the most comprehensive information they have ever published on McGill’s “alternative investments” in oil commodities, real estate, and a list of McGill’s hedge funds with overall strategies indicated.


We’d like to thank the staff at McGill for their help in preparing this data. We hope this information will help inform the discussions happening on campus around these issues.

Rolling Release of McGill’s Equity Holdings and Quarterly Reports

The equities are here from 2011 on:


And the quarterly reports are here, again from 2011 on:


Here are the annual reports going back to 2007:


Contracts with Six Companies Not Released

Only two companies consented to have their contracts released: Imperial Oil (Exxon-Mobil), BHP Billiton. This allows us to have a public and open discussion about the university’s activities.
Not released: Nexen, Statoil ASA, Royal Bank of Canada, Xstrata, Rio Tinto not released, claiming that articles 23 & 24 of Québec’s Access to Information law applied. In other words, these companies refused to release their contracts in any way to the public.
We remain concerned about this secretive use of university resources.
For the remaining companies, McGill claims they have no contracts, Memoranda of Understanding, or Memoranda of Agreement with the other companies listed below.
Here was the full text of the request:
1.) All contracts, Memoranda of Understanding, or Memoranda of Agreement with the companies listed below and related to research conducted between January 1st, 2007 and December 31st, 2013:
Canadian Natural Resources
Cenovus Energy
Imperial Oil
Royal Dutch Shell Company
Statoil ASA
Suncor Energy
Transcanada Corps
Royal Bank of Canada
Anglo American
Exxon Mobil
BHP Billiton
Rio Tinto
Canadian Natural Resources
Mitsubishi Corp
Repsol YPF S.A.
BG Group
Inpex Corp
Statoil ASA
Talisman Energy Inc.
Cenovus Energy Inc
EOG Resources
Oil Search LTD
EnCana Corp.
Crescent Point Energy Corp.
AGL Energy
Tullow Oil
Santos Limited
Cairn Energy
GDF Suez S.A.
Itochu Corp
Bonavista Energy Corp

McGill releases contract and donation links to the fossil fuel industry

In March of 2015, McGill released much more comprehensive information about its ties to the fossil fuel industry. The three attachments contain information about fossil fuel industry donations to McGill as well as its industry-funded research grants. In addition, although McGill’s investments are publicly available, McGill released for the first time a list of holdings it considers part of the fossil fuel industry. This informs the community what McGill believes a divestment scenario would involve as of December 31st, 2014.


Industry-funded research grants.pdf

List of publicly traded equity in  MIP as at December 31 2014 – Shares Held

Here is the text of the request made to McGill.

I) An accounting of all shares held by McGill University (or related entities) of companies that have a principal business involved in the extraction, processing or, production of fossil fuels. The accounting shall include share type, share number, and corporate name;

II) An accounting of all shares held in the personal account of Principal Suzanne Fortier of companies that have a principal business involved in the extraction, processing or production of fossil fuels. The accounting shall include share type, share number, and corporate name; and

III) An accounting of all financial donations, contributions, grants, bursaries, scholarships and any other financial transfer received by McGill University, its staff in their professional capacities, or related entities from companies that have a principal business involved in the extraction, processing or production of fossil fuels. The accounting shall include corporate name, the monetary value of said financial transfer, and underlying purpose of said financial transfer.”

McGill released the three documents with the following statement and explanation:

“Regarding the first part of your request, please note that the list of McGill’s investment holdings is publicly accessible on McGill’s website. You may access this information by following this URL link: http://www.mcgill.ca/investments/holdings. This notwithstanding, we are able to provide you with a list of publicly traded equity holdings held by McGill University from companies which might derive their incomes from the fossil fuel industry, as at December 31, 2014. The list includes the type of industry under which each corporation is classified, the corporations’ names and the number of shares held by McGill for each corporation. Please note that this list does not include McGill’s holdings in pooled funds. McGill University does not hold documents regarding pooled funds that correspond to your request.

Regarding the second part of your request, McGill University does not possess any documents regarding the shares that Principal Suzanne Fortier may hold. McGill does not have any “personal account” containing any information described in this portion of your request.

Regarding the third part of your request, we are able to provide you with a list of donations received by the office of University Advancement from companies “that have a principal business involved in the extraction, processing or production of fossil fuels,” and a list of research grants received from companies “that have a principal business involved in the extraction, processing or production of fossil fuels.” Both lists are records of information from April 1, 2008, to the date of your request.

Please be advised that the documents you are requesting contain confidential “industrial, financial, commercial, scientific, technical or union information” and/or information supplied by third persons, the disclosure of which “would likely hamper negotiations in view of a contract, result in losses for the third person or in considerable profit for another person or substantially reduce the third person’s competitive margin.” Consequently, as required by sections 25 and 49 of the Act (appended for your reference), we notified the third parties in question. We have since been advised by certain third parties that they consent to the release of the documents subject to certain redactions. Accordingly, pursuant to sections 23 and 24 of the Act (appended), we have redacted the documents according to the responses of the third parties.”

The redacted sections came from Imperial Oil, who nonetheless released many of their research contracts, available here:










The McGill University Board of Governors 2007 Motion & Decision to Divest from Tobacco

Mr. Strople, Secretary General of McGill University writes:

Below is an excerpt from the Board of Governors meeting of May 22, 2007 (resolution and notes) approving divestment from Tobacco.

The CAMSR report was dealt with in the open session portion of the meeting.   The CAMSR report itself consists mainly of the motion approved by the Board.

At the date of the deliberations (2007), we would not have posted this report to the website. We will look at doing so in future.



Governor Emerita Brenda Norris, member of the Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility, presented a Memorandum concerning tobacco related investments. (This document attached to the permanent minutes as GD06-46).

She noted that CAMSR is a separate body from the Investment Committee, although two of its members – currently herself and Committee Chair Ian Soutar – are drawn from the latter committee. In her preamble, she noted that the CAMSR resolution would have McGill take action that has already been pursued by several North American universities, including the University of Toronto. She also pointed out that tobacco stocks represent only approximately

0.5% of the University’s investment portfolio and that the financial impact of divestment would likely be minimal.

She read out the following resolution, moved by Governor Flanders and seconded by Governor Peeters:

Whereas CAMSR has received a properly constituted petition from the Post Graduate Students’ Society of McGill University (PGSS) requesting that CAMSR recommend to the Board of Governors of McGill University that it initiate the divestment of tobacco stocks from the University’s endowment fund;

Whereas, following a review of all the materials submitted to it by the Post Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS), CAMSR is of the opinion that PGSS has established to CAMSR’s satisfaction that action is warranted on the part of the Board of Governors given the indisputable social injury caused by tobacco as a result of:

tobacco’s contribution to numerous adverse health conditions, both in smokers and in

those exposed to second-hand smoke;

the fact that there exists no safe use of tobacco and that it is a strongly addictive product; the economic burden resulting from health care costs and loss of productivity due to tobacco;

the clear marketing of tobacco products towards youth, and particularly those of university age or even younger;

the public health risk of fires caused by smoking;

Whereas, CAMSR has developed a definition of the holdings that would be affected by a tobacco divestment decision;

On motion duly proposed and seconded, it was resolved that the Board of Governors approve the initiation of the following actions:

1.     That the Investment Committee instruct investment managers of publicly traded segregated accounts charged with responsibility for the University endowment to dispose, in an orderly fashion, of the University holding in any corporation that derives more  than 10% of its revenues from the manufacture and production of tobacco products.  Tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and pipe tobacco.  Corporations deriving revenue from activities related to the manufacture and production of tobacco products such as the manufacture of filters, rolling papers and packaging materials are exempt from this policy;

2.     That the Investment Committee request investment managers of publicly traded segregated accounts charged with responsibility for the university endowment to refrain from investing in any corporation that derives more than 10% of its revenues from the manufacture and production of tobacco products.

In discussion, Governors stressed two considerations not to be overlooked should the Board approve the resolution. First, it was agreed that the primary goal in  managing the endowment is to obtain optimal returns while ensuring an acceptable level of risk. The case of  tobacco is exceptional, if not unique, in that there is no known safe use of tobacco products. Further to that point, Governors noted that awareness of the hazards of tobacco use has grown considerably as a result of scientific findings of recent years.  Governors agreed that this motion was considered an exception.

Second, it was agreed that the University in no way wishes to denounce its generous benefactors with ties to the tobacco industry, including Sir William Macdonald, whose legacy lives in Macdonald Campus, which is a source of great pride to McGill.

The vote was called and the motion was carried, with two opposed and two abstentions.

Board of Governor Conflict of Interest statements–November, 2014

In November, 2014 McGill released the Conflict of Interest statements for its current Board of Governors.

ATI  2 06-11-2014

ATI  3 06-11-2014

This file documents the cost associated with stocking the principal’s refridgerator:

ATI  06-11-2014

BHP Billiton’s Multi-year McGill Contract

In 2014, McGill completed the ATI requests originally filed in 2012 relating to fossil fuel research contracts.

McGill informed us that it has research contracts with Imperial Oil, nexen, Statoil ASA, Royal Bank of Canada, BHP Billiton, Xstrata, Rio Tinto. But of these companies only two–Imperial Oil and BHP Billiton, to their credit–agreed to release partially redacted contracts to us.

In this document from 2010, BHP Billiton renews a five-year contract with a McGill professor, after a previous $1.68 million contract.

BHP Billiton’s Contract Letter