Meritas Mutual Funds delivering shareholder 'say on pay' in Canada

Ten companies brought on board so far in 2010

KITCHENER, ON, March 24 /CNW/ - Meritas Mutual Funds continues to lead the way toward a greater say on pay for shareholders, making the votes a reality at a growing number of Canada's public companies.

In response to requests from Meritas Mutual Funds, Enbridge Inc., EnCana Corporation, Suncor Energy, TransAlta Corporation, Biovail Corporation, Canadian Pacific Railway Limited, Agrium Inc, Russel Metals Inc., Barrick Gold Corporation and Major Drilling Group International Inc. have agreed to hold pay votes beginning in 2010 or 2011. Gary Hawton, Chief Executive Officer of Meritas commented, "I applaud these companies for recognizing that a "say on pay" vote is quickly becoming recognized as a sign of good corporate governance."

Just two of the companies where Meritas submitted "say on pay" shareholders proposals failed to voluntarily adopt the measure. Shareholders are set for votes at Gennum Corporation on April 7 and Methanex Corporation on April 29.

Meritas started the pay vote conversation in 2007, working with the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE) to ask Canada's five largest banks if they would voluntarily provide their shareholders with an annual advisory vote on executive compensation. When the banks indicated that they would not adopt say on pay, Meritas filed proposals asking bank shareholders to weigh in on the issue.

There was strong support for Meritas' proposals. In 2008, 40% of bank shares voted were voted in favour. In 2009, a majority of shareholders backed each proposal. In response, each bank committed to hold a pay vote in 2010.

Meritas accelerated its efforts this year, submitting say on pay proposals at twelve companies.

Meritas plans to further expand its say on pay dialogue with corporate Canada in 2011. "While we have had some success the past two years in making "say on pay" a reality in Canada, there are still hundreds of companies that have not adopted this practice," said Hawton. "If need be, we will go through the list of companies we own, one by one, to make this vote a reality but I would hope that there are many board of directors who will step up to the plate and act on providing this vote without a need for shareholder pressure."

About Meritas Mutual Funds: Meritas is devoted solely to creating and marketing socially responsible investments. It does so for individuals under the brand name Meritas Mutual Funds and also has an institutional division for corporations, endowments, foundations, pension plans and other large investors. Committed to all three aspects of socially responsible investing, Meritas uses positive and negative screening guidelines, shareholder activism and community development investments to help investors align their portfolio with their social, ethical, governance and environmental concerns.

About SHARE: SHARE is a national social enterprise dedicated to improving institutional investment practices that protect the long-term interests of pension plan members, beneficiaries and society in general.

SOURCE MERITAS MUTUAL FUNDS

For further information: For further information: Gary Hawton, CEO, Meritas Mutual Funds, Phone: (519) 624-6767, email: ghawton@meritas.ca

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