For Emma Pullman, it was about time.
At an annual general meeting for Suncor on Thursday, she spearheaded an unprecedented proposal that gave shareholders a unique choice. And almost half of them in a stiff audience of roughly 200 — mostly Calgary businessmen — agreed.
Her proposal called for the Calgary-based energy giant, known for its oil and gas operations as well as its Petro Canada gas stations, to fully disclose the money it spends to lobby governments to change laws and policies.
She was pleased that 40 per cent voted to accept her calls for increased transparency.
“I think this is a conversation whose time has come," said Pullman, lead campaign strategist for SumofUs, an independent, non-governmental organization that calls for corporate accountability worldwide.
“There’s a real risk not only to shareholders but also to the public in not knowing how these companies are working behind the scenes to influence policy."
SumofUs has been pressuring Suncor to release this information since November 2015, and its motion calls for corporate transparency on transactions aimed at lobbyists, grassroots campaigns, and trade associations. Two leading, independent proxy advisory firms recommended shareholder support for the motion at the meeting, Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis & Co.
The results scored Pullman a meeting with Suncor representatives on Friday to discuss if the policy will proceed and what it might look like. Though a Suncor representative was not available to speak with National Observer in time for publication of this story, Pullman is optimistic they will bow to such a strong show of support for change.
“It’s time that companies in Canada really start to move on it," she explained, "and I think Suncor is a really good first place for that conversation because it’s a company that really promotes itself as a transparent forward-looking company.”
Suncor is well-known for its leadership in mitigating climate risk, and supporting wind and solar energy throughout Canada. The company recently made headlines for snagging majority control of Syncrude with a $937-million Murphy Oil deal.
Other energy companies in Canada, including TransCanada and Enbridge, have received similar transparency resolutions in the past from non-profits and made fitting policy changes.
SumofUs itself is not a shareholder at Suncor, but its proposal was filed with $70,000 in company shares. Hundreds more of its members are shareholders, and it was able to present at the annual general meeting as a proxy shareholder.