Other Group

Le Fonds de Solidarite FTQ (FONDS)

Website:

www.fondsftq.com

Location:

Pointe-Claire, QC, Canada

Formation:

1983

Founders:

Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ) (Quebec Federation of Labor)

Type:

Government-Associated Capital Fund

Le Fonds de Solidarite FTQ (FONDS), known in English as Solidarity Fund FTQ, is a development capital fund based in Quebec, Canada. It manages net assets of  $16.7 billion Canadian (approximately $12.6 billion USD) and is partnered with 3,126 companies as of November 30, 2019. [1]

The Solidarity Fund follows left-of-center “environmental-social-governance” (ESG) views in its investment process, such as choosing companies that support environmentalism and fund community organizations and foundations in Quebec. [2] It has a four-point plan for combatting climate change,[3] and implements multiple in-house environmental awareness activities. [4]

The Solidarity Fund has been involved in controversies surrounding corruption in the Quebecois union movement and alleged ties to organized crime. [5]

Background

Le Fonds de Solidarite FTQ (FONDS), also known in English as the Solidarity Fund FTQ, is an environmental-social-governance (ESG)-related development capital fund based in Quebec Canada. It was created in 1983 by the labor union Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ), known in English as the Quebec Federation of Labor after Quebec fell into a recession in the early 1980s. [6]

According to the Solidarity Fund’s website, it manages net assets of  $16.7 billion Canadian (approximately $12.6 billion) and is partnered with 3,126 companies as of November 30, 2019. It has an investment network, of 74 local funds, 16 regional and 84 sector funds across Quebec as of May 31, 2018. The Solidarity Fund also has more than 700,000 shareholders. [7]

While its main objective is to contribute to Quebec’s economic growth via investing in small to medium-sized businesses by calling upon the “solidarity and savings of Quebecers,” it also encourages citizens of the province to save for retirement. [8]

ESG Policy

The Solidarity Fund lists multiple left-of-center ESG-related policy points on its website while referring to its goals towards sustainable investment opportunities.

While referring to a “social dimension,” the Solidarity Fund notes that it “seeks to optimally integrate, particularly at an organizational level, its activities related to SD and SRI” by sharing benefits with its partner companies. Other things the Solidarity Fund lists include providing audits on a company prior to investment to assess the quality of communication within the company, its labor profile, and working conditions and to ensure that the company respects the environment. Companies must also support “many foundations as well as social and community organizations across Québec.” [9]

The Solidarity Fund also commits to socially responsible investing techniques in-house by ensuring its employees go through training and environmental awareness-raising activities.

The Solidarity Fund has implemented a Green Committee which develops and implements environmental activities and projects, a Sustainable Transport Committee which takes actions within the organization to reduce driving and promote public transportation. The Solidarity Fund also utilizes “eco-responsible event management,” meaning that any meetings or activities created by the organization are “driven by the principles of respect for the environment and solidarity.” [10]

The organization has also adopted a four-point plan to combat climate change.

The plan consists of the Solidarity Fund reducing the carbon footprint of its public investments by 25% by 2025, assist companies with the transition to renewable energy, invest in a low-carbon economy, and be a leader in the “just energy transition.” [11]

Controversy

SOLIM, the real-estate arm of the Solidarity Fund, invested in Ronnie Beaulieu, an alleged Hell’s Angels associate who was previously convicted of loan-sharking, in 2008. SOLIM invested in the Beulieu’s now-defunct furniture store, and according to Guy Gionet, a former fund director, the board was aware that the investment had been made, noting that the criminal background “didn’t even come up for discussion.” [12]

Beaulieu also wanted the Solidarity Fund to invest in a strip club he owned. Former FTQ-Construction director Jocelyn Dupuis requested that Gionet invest more than $1 million into the club, as SOLIM was interested in the land surrounding it. The loan was approved, and according to Gionet “There was really no discussion at the board. There were no debates on the situation.” [13]

Michel Arsenault, the former president of the FTQ labor union and former chairman of the Solidarity Fund, resigned from his position in 2013 amid a scandal in the FTQ’s construction unions involving alleged ties between FTQ-Construction boss Jocelyn Dupuis and organized crime. (Arsenault denied his resignation was related to the allegations.)[14]

Arsenault was recorded on a wiretap talking to Dupuis, who allegedly directed the $1 million loan be given to Beaulieu, who was also under investigation for ties with members of the Mafia and the motorcycle gang. In the conversation, Dupuis is heard threatening Arsenault as the former chairman of the Solidarity Fund refused to invest in the projects that Dupuis wanted. [15] Dupuis was later found guilty of defrauding the Quebec Federation of Labour through inflated expense reports. [16]

During his testimony in the Quebec corruption inquiry in front of Canada’s Charbonneau Commission in 2013, Arsenault claimed that he did not know about officials discussing union business with alleged Rizzuto clan associate Raynald Desjardins; however, a wiretapped conversation of Arsenault heard him say that he was taking orders from “The Sparrow,” allegedly code for Desjardins. [17]

In another wiretapped conversation, Arsenault can be heard promising another union official that he had spoken to the leader of Quebec’s main opposition party at the time, future Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, about preventing the corruption inquiry from happening. Arsenault also said that he had a “deal” with Marois’s husband Claude Blanchet, who directed the Solidarity Fund between 1983 and 1997. [18]

References

  1. “Our History.” Fonds de solidarité FTQ. Accessed February 4, 2020. https://www.fondsftq.com/en/a-propos/notre-histoire.aspx. ^
  2. “Social Dimension.” Fonds de solidarité FTQ. Accessed February 4, 2020. https://www.fondsftq.com/en/a-propos/developpement-durable/volet-social.aspx. ^
  3. “Engaging in a Just Energy Transition.” Fonds de solidarité FTQ. Accessed February 4, 2020. https://www.fondsftq.com/en/a-propos/developpement-durable/transition-energetique-juste.aspx. ^
  4. “Environmental Dimension.” Fonds de solidarité FTQ. Accessed February 4, 2020. https://www.fondsftq.com/en/a-propos/developpement-durable/volet-environnemental.aspx. ^
  5. “Quebec Corruption Inquiry Hears from Former Head of FTQ | CBC News.” CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, January 28, 2014. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/michel-arsenault-ex-ftq-president-testifies-at-corruption-inquiry-1.2512259. ^
  6. “Our History.” Fonds de solidarité FTQ. Accessed February 4, 2020. https://www.fondsftq.com/en/a-propos/notre-histoire.aspx. ^
  7. “Our History.” Fonds de solidarité FTQ. Accessed February 4, 2020. https://www.fondsftq.com/en/a-propos/notre-histoire.aspx. ^
  8. “Who We Are.” Fonds de solidarité FTQ. Accessed February 4, 2020. https://www.fondsftq.com/en/a-propos/qui-sommes-nous.aspx. ^
  9. “Social Dimension.” Fonds de solidarité FTQ. Accessed February 4, 2020. https://www.fondsftq.com/en/a-propos/developpement-durable/volet-social.aspx. ^
  10. “Environmental Dimension.” Fonds de solidarité FTQ. Accessed February 4, 2020. https://www.fondsftq.com/en/a-propos/developpement-durable/volet-environnemental.aspx. ^
  11. “Engaging in a Just Energy Transition.” Fonds de solidarité FTQ. Accessed February 4, 2020. https://www.fondsftq.com/en/a-propos/developpement-durable/transition-energetique-juste.aspx. ^
  12. CTV Montreal. “Charbonneau Commission: FTQ Solidarity Fund’s Strip Club Investment.” Montreal. CTV News, January 16, 2014. https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/charbonneau-commission-ftq-solidarity-fund-s-strip-club-investment-1.1640162. ^
  13. CTV Montreal. “Charbonneau Commission: FTQ Solidarity Fund’s Strip Club Investment.” Montreal. CTV News, January 16, 2014. https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/charbonneau-commission-ftq-solidarity-fund-s-strip-club-investment-1.1640162. ^
  14. Banerjee, Sidhartha, and Canadian Press. “Head of Quebec’s Biggest Union Quits amid Controversy.” iPolitics, November 5, 2013. https://ipolitics.ca/2013/11/04/head-of-quebecs-biggest-union-quits-amid-controversy/. ^
  15. Banerjee, Sidhartha, and Canadian Press. “Head of Quebec’s Biggest Union Quits amid Controversy.” iPolitics, November 5, 2013. https://ipolitics.ca/2013/11/04/head-of-quebecs-biggest-union-quits-amid-controversy/. ^
  16. Carpenter, Phil. “Former FTQ Head Jocelyn Dupuis Sentenced to 12 Months in Prison.” Montreal Gazette, January 30, 2015. https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/former-ftq-head-jocelyn-dupuis-sentenced-to-12-months-in-prison. ^
  17. “Quebec Corruption Inquiry Hears from Former Head of FTQ | CBC News.” CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, January 28, 2014. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/michel-arsenault-ex-ftq-president-testifies-at-corruption-inquiry-1.2512259. ^
  18. “Quebec Corruption Inquiry Hears from Former Head of FTQ | CBC News.” CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, January 28, 2014. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/michel-arsenault-ex-ftq-president-testifies-at-corruption-inquiry-1.2512259. ^
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Le Fonds de Solidarite FTQ (FONDS)

755 Boul Saint-Jean bureau
Pointe-Claire, QC 130QC H9R 5M9
Canada