21 Jun, 2024

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) invests in Gaza Genocide

The CDPQ December 31, 2023 year-end report includes over $14 billion of investments in companies complicit with Israeli war crimes and genocide. This represents just over 3 percent of the CDPQ total holdings of $434 billion.
Canadian BDS Coalition

The CDPQ December 31, 2023 year-end report includes over $14 billion of investments in companies complicit with Israeli war crimes and genocide. This represents just over 3 percent of the CDPQ total holdings of $434 billion.

The CDPQ had investments totaling $1.5 billion in seven companies listed in the United Nations database of companies engaged in certain Israeli settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT).

In addition, the CDPQ had over $12 billion invested in companies that AFSC Investigate has shown are involved in specific human rights violations as part of the Israeli occupation.  This includes a $4.2 billion investment in Montreal-based WSP, up from $3.5 billion in 2022. 

Israeli settlements in the OPT were declared contrary to international law by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2004. In 2016, the UN Security Council reaffirmed that the establishment by Israel of these settlements constitutes a flagrant violation under international law. In 2021, Canadian Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the OPT, concluded that the settlements amount to a war crime. ​​The Caisse’s investments in companies operating in these settlements therefore make it  complicit in this violation of international law and this war crime.

On January 26, 2024, the ICJ ordered provisional measures in a case brought by South Africa against Israel for its alleged breaches of the Genocide Convention in its actions in Gaza. In its Order the Court found that the right of the Palestinians in Gaza to be protected from acts of genocide was “plausible”.

On January 26, 2024, the ICJ ordered provisional measures in a case brought by South Africa against Israel for its alleged breaches of the Genocide Convention in its actions in Gaza. In its Order the Court found that the right of the Palestinians in Gaza to be protected from acts of genocide was “plausible”.

This year, the analysis therefore also considered the CDPQ’s investments in weapons companies identified by World Beyond War as involved in arming the Israeli military. This represents an additional $731 million invested in companies beyond those listed by the UN and AFSC.

While the ICJ has yet to rule on the merits of South Africa’s case against Israel, in her most recent report, entitled  Anatomy of a Genocide, Francesca Albanese, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the OPT, concludes there are reasonable grounds to believe that the threshold indicating Israel’s commission of genocide is met. Thus, there are reasonable grounds to believe that companies involved in arming the Israeli military are complicit in genocide, as is the Caisse by investing in those companies.

Investments in Previous Years by the CDPQ

This is the third year that an analysis has been conducted of the CDPQ holdings in relation to the OPT, with similar results.

The United Nations (UN) Database of business enterprises in relation to Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The UN Database was released on February 12, 2020, in a Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/43/71). The request for the production of a database had been made in 2016 by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 31/36, in follow-up to the report of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (A/HRC/22/63). In its report, the fact-finding mission had set out a list of activities that had raised particular human rights concerns, by reference to which the Council defined the database:

  1. The supply of equipment and materials facilitating the construction and the expansion of settlements and the wall, and associated infrastructures;
  2. The supply of surveillance and identification equipment for settlements, the wall and checkpoints directly linked with settlements;
  3. The supply of equipment for the demolition of housing and property, the destruction of agricultural farms, greenhouses, olive groves and crops;
  4. The supply of security services, equipment and materials to enterprises operating in settlements;
  5. The provision of services and utilities supporting the maintenance and existence of settlements, including transport;
  6. Banking and financial operations helping to develop, expand or maintain settlements and their activities, including loans for housing and the development of businesses;
  7. The use of natural resources, in particular water and land, for business purposes;
  8. Pollution, and the dumping of waste in or its transfer to Palestinian villages;
  9. Captivity of the Palestinian financial and economic markets, as well as practices that disadvantage Palestinian enterprises, including through restrictions on movement, administrative and legal constraints;
  10. Use of benefits and reinvestments of enterprises owned totally or partially by settlers for developing, expanding and maintaining the settlements.

The letters that appear next to the companies in the chart below refer to these listed activities.

While the resolution called for annual updating, no regular resources were provided for that purpose, so no companies were added to the database since 2020. However, a number of companies asked the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to remove them from the database. As a result, the database was updated in June 2023 to remove 15 of the original 112 companies listed. The December 31, 2023 CDPQ holdings were therefore analyzed using the 2023 update of the UN database.

Companies listed in the UN database that were part of the CDPQ portfolio on Dec. 31, 2023:

Company# shares  $$$ (Millions)  
Airbnb (E*)172099                    30.90 
Bank Hapoalim (E,F,G*)62079                      0.70 
Bank Leumi Le-Israel BM (E,F,G*)6220                      0.10 
Booking Holdings (E*)53122                  248.50 
Expedia Group (E*)3146                      0.60 
Motorola Solutions (D,E*)95863                    39.60 
Alstom SA (E,G*)66832554              1,185.70 

AFSC Investigate

The following companies listed in the CDPQ’s holdings as of December 31, 2023 have been shown  by AFSC Investigate to be involved in specific human rights violations as part of the Israeli occupation: 

Company# shares  $$$ (Millions)  
ABB Ltd2048234119.70 
Alphabet Inc – Class A72981511,344.30 
Alphabet Inc – Class C4029235748.80 
BAE Systems PLC9506675177.50 
Boeing47064 16.20 
Bombardier Inc – Class A230976 12.30 
Bombardier inc – Class C1905200101.40 
CNH Industrial NV297840048.10 
Canon Inc228446377.30 
Carrefour SA2525074              60.90 
Caterpillar Inc19897077.60 
Cemex SAB de CV21662409    22.30 
Cisco Systems166843341,111.40 
Colt CZ Group18600.10 
Doosan Co255602.50 
Doosan Bobcat25078412.90 
Doosan Enerbility Co2532304.10 
*General Dynamics Corp  84572.90 
*General Electric898571151.20 
General Mills363318    31.20 
General Motors105275549.90 
HD Hyundai Construction Equipment52150.30 
HD Hyundai Electric Co Ltd19400    1.60 
HD Hyundai Heavy Industries Co Ltd42670.60 
HD Hyundai Infracore Co Ltd1436221.20 
HDC Hyundai Development Co-Engineering & Construction325290.50 
Hyundai Autoever Corp12000.30 
Hyundai Department Store 117240.60 
Hyundai Engineering and Construction 1869426.70 
Hyundai Glovis5757611.30 
Hyundai Heavy Industries311553.90 
Hyundai Marine & Fire Insurance61304      1.90 
Hyundai Mipo Dockyard27491        2.40 
Hyundai Mobis12860031.20 
Hyundai Motor – General 305884              63.70 
Hyundai Motor – Privileges94892                  11.10 
Hyundai Steel37295813.90 
Hyundai Wia64521                4.30 
Heidelberg Materials AG232559                27.40 
Heidelberg Cement India25283079.30 
Hewlett Packard Enterprise4625827          103.60 
Hitachi Ltd1530124            145.50 
ICL Group6252574.20 
Indorama Ventures33651013.50 
IBM (International Business Machines) Corp1012077218.30 
*Leonardo SpA294100                  6.40 
*Lockheed Martin Corp104090                  62.20 
Meta Platforms3047291            1,422.30 
Mitsubishi Corp8380863                176.60 
Mitsubishi Electric Corp921760                  17.20 
Mitsubishi Estate Co Ltd2019290              36.70 
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Co Ltd1996004.20 
Mitsubishi HC Capital Inc5683005.00 
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc15068923          170.80 
*Northrop Grumman Corp112437            69.40 
Orbio Advance Corp SAB de CV5463670        16.00 
Palantir Technologies637432      14.40 
*Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC13781794        69.40 
Siemens AG431654    106.80 
Siemens Healthineers AG7641          0.60 
Siemens Ltd91916                5.90 
Solvay SA204000.80 
Sony Group Corp1627799    204.20 
Tata Motors3566300          44.10 
Tempur Sealy International217549            14.60 
Textron Inc2500                  0.30 
Toyota Industries Corp94600            10.20 
Toyota Motor Corp12235896                  296.50 
Toyota Tsusho Corp466046                36.20 
Volvo AB428740            14.70 
WSP Global22582102      4,194.40 

Among the companies listed above, the following are involved in weapons and arms manufacturing: General Dynamic ($2.9 M), General Electric ($151.2 M), Leonardo ($6.4 M), Lockheed Martin ($62.2 M), Northrop Grumman ($69.4M) and Rolls Royce ($69.4 M). All of these except Rolls Royce are included in World Beyond War’s Canada Stop Arming Israel list.

WSP Global

On September 15, 2022, Al-Haq and Just Peace Advocates submitted a report to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, requesting that WSP Global Inc. (WSP), a Canadian company, be included in the UN database. The submission was made by 105 organizations from around the world, including Canada, and supported by eminent  personalities, including former UN Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in the OPT  Michael Lynk, John Dugard and Richard Falk, and linguistics professor emeritus Noam Chomsky.

The submission provided comprehensive information in regards to WSP’s contract with Israel to plan and design the Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR), which contributes to the maintenance of the Israeli settlements East Jerusalem, occupied and annexed in violation of international law.

WSP thus facilitates the transfer of part of the occupying power’s population into the OPT, in violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.Through its active support of Israel’s settlement enterprise in East Jerusalem, WSP is involved in flagrant and systematic violations of the fundamental human rights of the Palestinian population.

We call on the CDPQ to use its influence to get WSP to withdraw from its contract for the JLR, just as the CDPQ did with Allied Universal in regard to its G4S investment in Policity, the Israeli police school.  

When questioned in 2023 in regard to Allied Universal, CDPQ spokesman Conrad Harrington said : “[CDPQ] takes any human rights allegations very seriously and [CDPQ] is one of the world’s most respected investors when it comes to ESG criteria—which we apply rigorously and consistently.” 

If that statement is true, the CDPQ should call on WSP to immediately end its involvement in the JLR. 


Also notable in its December 31, 20223 holdings is the CDQP’s re-investment in Palantir.

CDPQ dropped Palantir in 2022 when the stock plummeted 70 percent, but was again invested  in this company  in 2023. Palantir provides its Artificial Intelligence (AI) predictive system to Israeli security forces to jail people in  the OPT because they fit the “terrorist profile”. 

Palantir provides the same mass surveillance tools to law enforcement agencies and police departments, circumventing warrant procedures, thereby giving police access to vast amounts of information about individuals. The use of law enforcement databases gathered from the Israeli military skews the predictive power of the AI analysis to focus upon the types, locations, and people in the database. Human rights organizations deplore this type of policing (footnote 1).

Investing in Weapons and Arms Manufacturing

As noted above, CDPQ investments in weapons and arms manufacturing companies identified by AFSC Investigate include General Dynamics, General Electric, Leonardo, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Rolls Royce, amounting to more than $350M.

Additionally, CDPQ is invested in the following companies on World Beyond War’s Canada : Stop Arming Israel list but not in the UN Database or identified by AFSC Investigate:

COMPANY# shares  $$$ (Millions)  
BAE (BAE Systems PLC)9506675177.50
Curtiss-Wright Corp295828.70
Honeywell International17746549.10
Leidos Holdings19906328.40
Rheinmetall (partner of Elbit)2893112.10
Safran 654581152.00
Total          731.20

Based on this analysis, the CDPQ has more than $1 billion of investments in military and weapons manufacturing companies that are complicit in war crimes and perhaps genocide.

In Summary

In total, the CDPQ holds $14.232 billion of investments in companies that are complicit in war crimes and a number of these investments are associated with arms and weapons exported to Israel and possibly used in the ongoing genocide in Gaza.

The CDPQ Board and its senior executives should know that the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians Legal Working Group for Canadian Accountability (ICJP-Canada) has provided the Government of Canada with notice of intent to seek the prosecution of Canadian officials who are allegedly complicit in Israel’s war crimes. ICJP Canada is also considering expanding the scope of its initiative to pursue accountability of Canadian companies who are allegedly complicit in Israel’s war crimes. Like Canada’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court applies to natural persons. The latter makes it an offence to aid, abet or otherwise assist in the commission of war crimes and the crime of genocide. 

The CDPQ needs to take seriously the problem with their investments in companies complicit in war crimes and potentially supporting genocide.

We renew the call we have been making for the last three years for the CDPQ:

  • To divest from companies in the UN database, WSP Global and companies identified by AFSC Investigate as complicit in the Israeli occupation,
  • To review its portfolios for any other investments that are in violation of international law, and
  • To put in place a transparent process to ensure that companies are vetted for violations of human rights and international law.

The concerns raised are also in the broader context of ethical investment related to Quebec’s public fund investments including in mining, fossil fuels, private health care and other issues of justice and humanitarian concern.

We ask the CDPQ to take all steps necessary to ensure that the activities of all companies included in its portfolio are in compliance with international law. 

We remind the CDPQ that, in Canada, parties that are complicit in war crimes, including corporations, are liable to criminal prosecution under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.

Footnote 1:

More information about Palantir:

In Canada, the way these databases are constructed makes them unlawful.  In particular, the RCMP was criticized by Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien and he tabled a report to Parliament in June 2021 after investigating the national police force’s use of software from U.S.-based Clearview AI.

In the USA, Palantir has multi-million-dollar contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which contributes to human rights abuses like family separation and deportations.

AFSC recommends divestment from Palantir, citing the targeting of Palestinians, immigrant surveillance and targeting by the USA, police data sharing and predictive policing, military AI, Covid surveillance, as well as political influence and a number of other controversial practices. For example, in March of 2018, Palantir employees were found to have been involved in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where data from 50 million Facebook profiles was mined to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

AFSC has noted that Palantir collects data from clients to feed the massive database upon which facial recognition and AI predictions are based. Like the database employed by Clearview AI, there is significant doubt that all the individuals whose picture appears in the database are voluntarily provided. As a result, there is considerable concern for violation of human rights.

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