April 6, 2012

Caisse: the people's conglomerate


One wonders what Lesage would think of what's become of the nest egg his government created for Quebecers 47 years ago. While critics question why a pension fund needs to be such an aggressively acquisitive entity, having a piece of some 4,000 companies in Quebec, Canada, the United States and around the world, there's no denying the Caisse has become a very "powerful economic lever."

There was a reminder of the scope and sweep of the Caisse last week with the announcement by the historic Fairmont Chateau Frontenac hotel of a $66 million renovation project. The 119-year-old castle and most identifiable feature of the Quebec City skyline was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway to attract and accommodate passengers along its nation-spanning track.

The very deep pockets of Ivanhoe Cambridge allow such a huge investment in one the world's prized lodgings, helping it compete in Quebec City's ferocious tourism market.

Besides the Chateau, major Canadian Pacific legacy hotels in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Victoria and Vancouver are in the Caisse portfolio through Ivanhoe Cambridge. Guests at these hotels are also helping to boost my pension plan. As are the Fairmont hotels in Washington, D.C., and Seattle and the Hilton in Atlanta.

Heck, I could even retire at one of the Caisse-owned retirement compounds in Arizona, California or Oregon. I don't figure there's a discount for Quebec residents, though.

It hasn't been all smooth sailing for the Caisse. Management took a lot of heat for exposing the fund to a massive hit in the global economic crisis beginning in 2007. Critics noted that some risky paper investments the Caisse made cost it some $40 billion and undermined confidence in the people's pension fund.

The Caisse changed some of its investment policies as a result and its portfolio has gradually recovered from the loss.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • ken_wibecan.jpg Another day in the life

    Each morning I rise from bed, slowly, as is my habit, and sit quietly on the bed contemplating the day that looms before me, writes columnist Ken Wibecan.

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • PPR small talk mug 081714 Corner store is no more

    Columnist Gordie Little offers a reminder of the little grocery stores of days gone by.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • PPR skin deep mug 081714 High-end products worth the splurge

    Regardless of the price, writes columnist Felicia Krieg, she would buy the core group of her makeup products over and over again.

    August 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • paul_grasso.jpg Tax code needs overhaul

    Corporations may be criticized for exploiting loopholes, but it is the complex tax system that is at fault, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Ideas about soil health changing

    New techniques like no-til and cover crops can make soil healthier than conventional tillage, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Economy may have changed forever

    The Great Recession has reordered the workforce in a way that makes it unlikely it will ever be the same, according to columnist Colin Read.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg The dark side of fun funerals

    Something strange happened in American culture in the past decade or two: People started planning fun funerals, writes religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • PPR fit bits mug Developing power key to success

    While strength is important, the ability to generate power is required for many basic activities in life, writes columnist Ted Santaniello.

    August 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • PPR you had to ask mug 081014 Time to reel in youth sports parents

    Do not scream at a child that he's a loser, at least not in a language he understands, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    August 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Treating corporations like people

    Problems arise in many areas when businesses take on the attributes of individuals as mandated by the court, according to columnist Colin Read.

    August 10, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension

Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns

Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice
Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk
Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time