May 22, 2012 Leave a comment
Many years ago we, quite naturally as young people, observed that certain persons, even in our Mennonite circles, earned more money than we ever expected to earn and, if we were in a position to hear about the payment being made, we used jokingly to ask; ‘do you think his hand shook when he took such a large amount for himself? ‘
Today, in the Calgary Herald, May 21, Victoria Day, it was revealed that Dale Fraser was given a severance payout of more than $310,000 after working 14 years as head of the Calgary Parking Authority at a salary of $160,000, and that large amount even though he had been fired.
Did Dale’s hand shake when he took it – that is, was there even one spasm of guilty conscience, and even more so when it was revealed he had charged ‘overtime’ to the tune of thousands of dollars? Thinking it right to charge overtime when you are already well paid seems beyond reason, beyond civic common sense? I know nothing of this man’s pursuit of a life style or advantages or thoughts of entitlement that keep him near the calculator.
I remember how a man came to my teaching university on a five-year contract as president. It was rumoured he used lawyers to ensure that every base was covered, possible severance, a teaching position in the department of his discipline if he so chose to stay at this university. Ah, he was only being prudent, right, well prepared for every eventuality, including a portable pension into the next job. All university presidents do it. All those winning government jobs are provided with a contract and no one is worried about the shaking hand, but rather with the ‘golden handshake. And no one, it seems, more so than in Alberta.
One of the first to question exorbitant payouts was Mayor Maheed Nenshi in the matter of severance for the chief of Enmax, a City-owned power company, when he was transitioning out for whatever reason. Another matter that caught voter attention and led to finger-pointing was the revelation there were people in Edmonton taking money for sitting on committees that never met! This was going to add up to thousands. If they should have a guilty conscience for such unheard largesse, how about those who felt the brunt of questions from opposition party leaders and also Danielle Smith, Wildrose leader, about the all too grandiose severance packages for those retiring from public life.
According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Alberta is the only province that pays severance. The Calgary Herald reported the twelve richest purses on March 23, 2012: Ken Kowalski: $1,189,000; Ed Stelmach: $991,000; Rob Renner: $872,000; Barry McFarland: $720,000; Iris Evans: $698,000; Janis Tarchuk: $645,000; Richard Marz: $544,000; three with $512,000; Hugh MacDonald: $491,000; and Kevin Taft, former leader of the Liberal Party, $405,000.
We will not even try to name bank presidents who earn, more legitimately, perhaps, we hope, than the J.P. Morgan executive responsible for losing billions yet who still walked away into his sunset with millions. The Enron story Conspiracy of Fools by Kurt Eichenwald showed how those who bilked their own company out of millions, or tried to do so, argued to the end, `we have done no wrong.“ If Jeff Skilling`s hand is shaking in prison, it is not from guilt.