Does Doug Ford understand how the Government of Ontario works?
Doug Ford’s cost-cutting plan is sounding more and more unrealistic.
Speaking Tuesday night, the Ontario PC leader told Thunder Bay conservatives he could save the province money by firing Mayo Schmidt, the CEO of Hydro One – someone he falsely suggested is a government employee.
Ford asked why the CEO doesn’t appear on “the sunshine list” when “everyone else’s salaries were shown,” apparently unaware Hydro One is not covered by legislation disclosing public sector salaries because Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals privatized it.
Maybe “Wynne put a kibosh” on it to keep things “hush, hush,” the PC leader said, before promising to fire Schmidt.
“I’m putting him on notice,” Ford told supporters. “He is gone. He is gone when we get down there.”
The Premier of Ontario can’t directly fire the CEO of Hydro One because, once again, Hydro One is now a for-profit company – Wynne’s Liberals sold its majority share in Hydro One in 2015, driving up costs and losing billions in revenue in the process.
According to CBC News:
New in this speech from Ford was a threat to fire the CEO of privatized Hydro One, Mayo Schmidt. His salary and bonuses reached $6.2 million last year.
“This guy has the nerve to give himself a $1.7 million raise,” Ford said. “That’s disgusting that is absolutely disrespecting the taxpayers. Well I can tell you folks I’m putting him on notice. He is on notice. He is gone. He is gone when we get down there.”
Ford did not explain how he would fire the CEO of a company the province does not control. The Wynne government privatized Hydro One in 2015, leaving the province as a minority shareholder.
Although Ford can’t directly fire the CEO of Hydro One, he could try to remove him using a complicated process likely to create more chaos than it’s worth.
As Ontario’s current Minister of Energy explained, the only way Ford could fire the CEO of Hydro One would be to fire the “independent” Board of Directors responsible for overseeing the publicly traded company and install partisan loyalists willing to carry out his orders – an idea the Minister called “banana republic-ish.”
Spoke with @GlennThibeault about @fordnation‘s threat to fire Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt. He said it would create a “banana republic-ish” business climate and shows Ford doesn’t understand the electricity system.
— Jessica Smith Cross (@jessiecatherine) April 11, 2018
In addition to the many golden parachutes, the fallout from firing the entire board of a publicly traded company would likely be a big waste of money.
Last time Ontario removed the CEO of Hydro One, taxpayers were on the hook for $3 million in severance, though Hydro One was still a crown corporation back then.
It’s almost as if Doug Ford doesn’t understand how government works and is patently unqualified to hold public office.
— Emmett Macfarlane (@EmmMacfarlane) April 11, 2018
Ford also doesn’t mention that privatizing Hydro One has cost Ontario $1.8 billion more than it would have cost keeping it in public hands, all while enabling the CEO of Hydro One to collect bigger and bigger paycheques.
Yet Ford’s own party supported the privatization of Hydro One, meaning regardless of whether Ford’s PCs or Wynne’s Liberals were in power, Ontario would still be losing billions of dollars because both parties supported privatization.
But Ford had one more tall tale for conservative supporters in Thunder Bay.
As CBC News also reported, Ford falsely took credit for forcing Hydro One to “publish their salaries,” even though this information already has to be published under the longstanding rules of the Toronto Stock Exchange:
Ford inaccurately claimed credit for bringing Hydro One salaries into the open. “We keep hammering away at the CEO of Hydro One. And they’re keeping it hush-hush,” he said. “Finally, after every single day going after this guy, they were forced to publish their salaries.”
However, that had nothing to do with it: the TSX requires Hydro One (and all publicly traded companies) to publish the compensation of their five top-paid executives.
Ford has struggled since becoming leader to demonstrate he understands the job, flippantly suggesting he’ll cut funding for entities that do not receive provincial funding or build highways over First Nations land without consent.
Despite promising to pay for his election promises by somehow finding “efficiencies,” Ford later flip-flopped on his promise to provide voters with the full price tag for the promises before voters go to the polls on June 7.
Maybe this explains why Ford can’t back-up his words with details?