John Sinclair

New Brunswick Investment Management Corporation CEO John Sinclair sits before the Standing Committee on Crown Corporations. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

The man who invests New Brunswick's public pensions in the stock market is staying out of the debate over pension reform.

New Brunswick Investment Management Corporation CEO John Sinclair appeared before the standing committee on Crown corporations on Thursday, but he avoided the pension controversy.

“NBIMC continues to exceed the investment requirements for the pension funds under our management,” he told the committee of MLAs.

Sinclair said despite the 2008 market crash his team averaged a 4.75 annual return investing public-sector pension funds.

Liberal MLA Roger Melanson praised the success, and tried to pin down Sinclair on the Progressive Conservative government's proposed reforms.

“Have you been asked in regard to this discussion of potentially going to a shared-risk model in New Brunswick?” asked the Dieppe Centre-Lewisville representative..

The reform would see retirees lose cost-of-living increases in years the market performs badly.

But Sinclair explained his role is not to pay out benefits but to play the market, which wouldn't change under the reform.

"We feel comfortable that we can provide investment management services for various objectives,” he said.

No questions from Tories

Sinclair did say longer life spans would strain pension funds.

“You know, that's something that is recognized industry-wide. In terms of specific details with respect to the reform discussions going on here, whether it's with the task force or the coalition, we haven't been party to those details.”

Despite the controversy over pension reform, none of the Progressive Conservative MLAs spoke up when committee chair Ross Wetmore called on them.

Melanson said he was surprised the Tories were not curious about a pension system that's been causing their party so much political grief.

A coalition of retired civil servants has threatened a lawsuit to block the reform.