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FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 2006

Grassroots Update: Vancouver, Canada

In blacks and beiges, the TD Greenwash Action Team met up early to go over our plan for the Toronto Dominion annual shareholder meeting. There were about a dozen of us, from various organizations and affiliations, ready to pose as TD Bank’s welcoming committee at the entrance to the Westin Resort and Marina in Vancouver, Canada. We were costumed in “TD Greenwash” T-shirts over black slacks, and armed with copies of a briefing revealing TD Bank’s environmentally destructive finance activities. We took our places in front of the huge glass windows that separated us from the foyer, where the shareholders and bank staff were snacking their way into the adjoining ballroom. We had just unrolled our “TD Greenwash: Bankrupting the Environment” banner when a security guard approached. He was confused about our affiliation, as our T-shirts gave us the appearance of bank sponsorship. He asked me multiple times if we were there with TD Bank before deciding that we most definitely were not, at which point he asked us to leave. We were a bit hard of hearing and slow to respond. We had not been there for more than a few minutes and thus reluctant to abandon our position. The security guard was replying, “No, they are not armed,” into the receiver of the telephone, while we began to shuffle out to the sidewalk. I was then called back by the hotel manager, who offered the shelter of the building’s overhang (it was inevitably rainy in Vancouver) per orders from TD Bank, granting us permission to remain…provided that we did not have any other tricks up our sleeves. I confirmed this, and we were able to hand out nearly 100 copies of the TD briefing, along with almost 300 postcards that read “TD Bank Destroys Endangered Forests”. The guys with the banner pranced around in front of the giant windows, showing off its statement to attendees as they registered just inside the glass pane. The shareholders were very receptive and polite; indeed many of them thanked us, most likely believing that we were actually the bank’s welcoming committee handing out essential information for the meeting. Well, we were! Meanwhile, on the inside, Bill (RAN) and Candace (Forest Ethics) grilled TD’s CEO, Ed Clark, on when TD bank would adopt environmental and social safeguards covering their financing and investments. While shareholders were busily reading the briefing profiling TD bank’s scandalous financing, Mr. Clark proceeded to obfuscate and digress, failing to answer the question. Mr. Clark’s response to our questions demonstrates, yet again, why TD Bank is in the back of the pack when it comes to the environment. The TD Greenwash Team has its work cut out for it in the months ahead, as it continues to expose the truth behind TD Bank’s green façade.

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