The news that senior executives at Emera and its wholly owned, profit-protected subsidiary, Nova Scotia Power, topped their million-plus, one-per-center-club-members-in-good-standing pay packets with raises from 20 to 30 per cent last year prompts all sorts of intriguing questions.
For starters, how many of the company’s secretaries sat on the compensation committee? The short answer: none.
And how many of Emera’s little old lady shareholders clutching their 10-share legacies for their grandchildren were invited to weigh in this larcenous largesse? Ditto.
Given the usual corporate-speak, soft-shoe routine about how such increases—Emera president and CEO Chris Huskilson now tops $2.99 million, executive vice president Nancy Tower $1.4 million and Nova Scotia Power president and CEO Rob Bennett $1.15 million—simply reflect company performance, how likely is it that Emera’s 35 per cent drop in profits so far this year will show up in next year’s executive take home pay?
If you think it will, I have a Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project for sale cheap.
And, since the company’s board of directors obviously believes its top executives are worth dramatic pay increases, will it offer similar 20-30 per cent increases to its unionized work force when the next contract is up for renewal? Or will it tout the flip-side arguments: increasing fuel costs, the need for new capital investment, the general state of the real-world work economy to low-ball its waged workers. Two guesses. The first doesn’t count.
There are other questions too. How much better would Nova Scotia Power’s salt-fog, stiff-breeze, power’s-out-again response time be if it invested in hiring more linemen instead of underwriting the summer homes and sailboats of its top executives?
And one more, larger question. Why did Donald Cameron’s short-lived Tory government peddle Nova Scotia Power, then a successfully publicly-owned and operated public utility—to the private sector back in 1992.
The ostensible reason was to pay down public debt.
Our debt is higher now, and still rising.
And we no longer have a public utility that takes into account the public interest. Perhaps that was the real purpose.