COLUMN

Big bucks for the big boys

Allan Fotheringham August 8 1983
COLUMN

Big bucks for the big boys

Allan Fotheringham August 8 1983

Big bucks for the big boys

COLUMN

Allan Fotheringham

This is such a pusillanimous country, all hedging and tender-footed, obsequious, doing what we are told to do by our government which knows better. In other jurisdictions they would riot and pour burning oil on their tormentors. Here, we roll over and kick our puppy like paws in the air, never complaining, adopting our favored public stance: docility. We refer here to the emissaries of our beloved masters in Ottawa, appearing on television and pleading with us from platforms to practise restraint, to subdue our greedy impulses and to fall in line with Six-andFive. We must be honest with one another, preaches the Prime Minister, and he promises to level with us as to how bad the business conditions are. He will be frank. He will reveal all.

How frank is the government he has headed for 15 years? It still shields from public view the salaries of the high corporate thinkers who are urging us to suck in the old gut and hang tough. Ian Sinclair, the burly giant from the Canadian Pacific empire, has been the point man out front, blocking for Mr. Trudeau in the campaign to keep individual and union demands down. How much, by the way, does Mr. Sinclair, the apostle of thrift, make? You can’t find out in Canada—simply because the government that Mr. Just Society heads hasn’t the courage to change the regulations so we can discover such things.

It’s one of the more disgraceful aspects of this supine country that we have to go to the much more democratic Americans to find out how much Canadian executives make. The United States Securities and Exchange Commission requires—sensibly—that any company that offers debt securities in the United States or whose stocks trade on U.S. exchanges must reveal the pay of the outfit’s five highest-paid executives. This squeamish country, the one called Canada, requires only “total remuneration” of officers and directors— meaning that it’s all hidden in one

Allan Fotheringham is a columnist for Southam News.

giant mishmash, individual pay safely hidden.

So while you’re being asked to eye the macaroni, we know that the total boodle for Imperial Oil Chairman Donald K. Mclvor went from $353,550 in 1981 to $596,820 in 1982. How do we know? Because you can find out in Washingtonbut you can’t in Canada. The wobbling Massey-Ferguson Ltd. ended 1982 with a loss of $510 million. But the Toronto farm equipment outfit paid its chairman and chief executive officer, Victor Rice, a whopping $441,814.

The compensation package for these

boardroom types includes base pay and bonuses, plus a few knick-knacks such as free cars, club memberships, house loans and other doodads. When you average out the loot given to 135 Canadian executives at 27 corporations, it went up 12 per cent from 1981 to 1982. (The consumer price index rose 10.8 per cent over the same period, but I guess these guys don’t go to the Safeway much.)

I like P.J. Urso, boss of McIntyre Mines, whose wallet went up from $131,000 to $292,000, a pay increase of 123 per cent. Or Edward G. Battle, president of Norcen Energy Resources, whose total package zipped up 35 per cent, from $280,000 to $377,000. Charles Bronfman of the Seagram whisky people, who owns the puzzling Expos and saved the Montreal Concordes, had his pay increased from $683,430 to $740,460 but also had a little benefit worth more than $1 million which helped his total climb to $2,015,779. You’re probably impressed, but his brother, Edgar, wasn’t. He made $2,610,207.

It’s so much fun, tripping around in these details of our business heroes with information supplied to us by a foreign country, our own politicians feeling that it would be somehow unclean if such embarrassing stuff were let loose in public here. Dome Petroleum, which has swallowed so many of our tax dollars due to Ottawa’s generosity? Three of their five top guys still got increases, group Vice-President G.R. Harrison going from $179,712 to $241,492, which strikes me as better than a slap in the face with a wet fish. (Smiling Jack Gallagher, the chairman and chief executive officer, was awarded $2.6 million when he announced his retirement—plus $27,500 monthly for eight years as a “consulting fee.”)

What about my old friend Big Julie Sinclair, who has become such a fan of Six-and-Five lately? He’s given up the big job at the railway and now just runs CP Enterprises, so he took home a paltry $228,344, down from 1981’s $566,228. You’ll be glad to know that the beloved Bell z Canada, whose second8 ranked chap gets $600,000, £ managed a raise for him g and three others of their “ top five. I like one Melvin W. Griffin, an executive vice-president only fifth on the Seagram pecking order, whose pay went from $382,693 to $969,064—which is more than all of Canadian National’s top five men combined.

Of 27 Canadian companies surveyed, only nine reported declines in total compensation to their big thinkers. MacMillan Bloedel Chairman Cälvert Knudsen, with an annual company loss of $93 million, dropped from $381,443 to $368,337. Do losses matter? McIntyre Mines lost $74.5 million, but veep J.P.L. Bacharach went from $99,683 to $215,350, and another v-p, J.C. Poss, went from $76,635 to $206,065. Seems like a good place to work, if anyone is looking for a job.

Where the unemployment needs to be applied is in the ranks of the Liberal government, which is yellow-livered and cowering at the thought of its corporate friends and campaign donators—a closed government that is afraid to let us see what we can get from across the border.