Bombardier: Let executives walk, if necessary

We need to give our millionaire executives hefty performance bonuses and such in order to retain their services.

That’s the gist of Quebec-based Bombardier’s explanation for, essentially, using taxpayer money to boost the compensation packages of its senior executives by almost 50 per cent from the year earlier, from $21.9 million U.S. to $32.6 million after going with hat in hand to the provincial and federal governments — both Liberal governments — for aid.

That aid was provided, to the tune of almost $3 billion, supposedly in the form of investments and a loan — though, I expressed doubts that we taxpayers will ever see our money again.

On Saturday, a Bombardier spokesperson was defending the compensation packages, saying they are based on meeting certain performance targets — and, thus, are not guaranteed — and that they need to raise the pay of people like CEO Alain Bellemare in order to keep him in this competitive market.

So, according to the CBC report I cited yesterday, “Last year, CEO Alain Bellemare got paid $9.5 million US, up from $6.4 million US a year earlier. His annual bonus almost doubled to $2.36 million US.”

So, is Bombardier suggesting Bellemare wouldn’t have stayed on for $6.4 million U.S. (add 25 cents to the dollar for  Canadian funds)?

If that’s the case, I say let him walk. Because, honestly, few executives work hard enough to justify those kinds of salaries. I mean, has Monsieur Bellemare discovered a cure for cancer or done something else that will have a profound impact on the future of mankind?

No. His job is to oversee the production and sales of  airplanes and trains — and I have my doubts that he will be doing any of the actual work on vehicles themselves.

Ditto for other executives pulling in millions of dollars per year in salaries. If it’s not enough for them, let them go and assign the work to people who are willing to work for less — because there are plenty of people who will take the jobs.

I don’t buy Bombardier’s reasoning. It’s a line many companies use, and I think it needs to be challenged in Bombardier’s case because they are using taxpayers’ money — my money. I don’t want to give Monsieur Bellemare a raise until such time Bombardier has improved its performance to the point we taxpayers can get back our investment with a profit. Only then should Bellemare and company get anything extra. And if that’s not good enough, let ’em walk. Nobody is irreplaceable.

Meanwhile, the Parti Québécois announced Saturday “it will present a motion to the National Assembly on Tuesday to demand all managers of Bombardier Inc. renounce the increase in their compensation for 2016,” the Montreal Gazette is reporting. Which says a lot for the integrity of PQ leader Jean-François Lisée and why he will probably be — and should be — premier of Quebec after the next election.

I’m doubting the motion will pass, because fat cat Liberals have a majority and they are the ones who agreed to “invest” taxpayer money in Bombardier.

But you can be sure voters will be reminded about this whole fiasco during the next election campaign, and Liberals would be mistaken if they think they can take anglophone votes for granted now that the PQ has promised there will be no independence referendum in its first mandate, and only might be one if they win a subsequent term in office.

As I said in my earlier post on this issue, the Bombardier compensation affair will cost Liberals in Quebec and Ottawa at the polls. They will lose some votes.

Politicians in Canada should look at the Trump victory in the United States as writing on the wall: voters are sick of elitist politicians catering to fat cats who are cutting workforces and rewarding themselves.

— Jillian

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