Publications 

21 June 2018

Why Canadian CEO pay has soared over the past decade

When shareholders of Canada’s big banks opened their proxy voting forms in early 2008, they found a striking new proposal on the ballot. Submitted by a small ethical mutual fund company, the resolution called on banks to give investors an annual vote on how executive pay was designed. Bank boards initially opposed the motion as […]

6 June 2018

Board members are independent, but are they credible?

By the late 2000s, the goal that boards should be made up of a majority of independent members had been achieved in almost every type of organization. While this achievement may have raised the quality of governance, it turned out that independent boards were not the panacea that some had anticipated. Events since, in particular […]

18 May 2018

Willis Towers Watson offers 2018 say-on-pay snapshot

In this snapshot review by Willis Towers Watson of U.S. say-on-pay and other compensation-related votes, WTW found that average support for say on pay remained high at 91%.  In addition, where ISS identified “high” levels of concern leading to negative recommendations on say on pay, 84% related to pay-for-performance concerns (compared to 75% in 2017).  WTW analyzed the […]

5 April 2018

It’s hunting season, as activists and regulators open fire on Canada’s businesses

The corporate hunting season is officially underway, an annual ritual during which shareholder parties, armed with proxies and other weapons of democratic destruction, set out to bag executives and directors for failing to deliver. The list of potential corporate failings is all encompassing. Anything and everything is a target, from executive compensation to diversity policies […]

5 April 2018

Executive pay: time for change ?

A highly standardized process leads to yearly executive pay packages which combine salary, bonuses, stock options, restricted stock grants, performance share units, retirement benefits. The full assemblage will also include formal contracts covering change-of-control situations, termination conditions, etc.  Only the quanta of the compensation package vary from firm to firm. Whenever “long-term” performance objectives are […]

9 March 2018

Sharing the spoils of legalized cannabis

Statistics Canada estimates that, in 2017, “4.9 million Canadians aged 15 to 64 spent an estimated $5.7 billion on cannabis for medical (10% of the market) and non-medical (90% of the market) purposes. This was equivalent to around $1,200 per cannabis consumer.” Private companies, several of them listed on the stock exchange and already supplying […]

17 January 2018

Liberals launch a fresh attack on corporations. They may not win

As a longtime member of the Association of Correspondents Tracking the War On Corporations, I have embedded with troops of lawyers, activists and corporate officials through the great battles of the last several decades. From the failure to ward off the stakeholder invasion of the 1990s to the great executive retreat at the Battle of […]

2 January 2018

Canada’s top CEOs will make $50K before noon on Jan. 2

If they were to live on the average worker’s pay, Canada’s CEOs could stop working at around 11 a.m. on Jan. 2 and take the rest of the year off. That’s because by 10:57 a.m. on the second day of the year, their earnings will have already hit $49,738, the equivalent of the country’s average […]

7 December 2017

How a proposed new ‘right’ for shareholders could badly damage corporate boards

There is a frenzied rush to get/give a new ‘right” to shareholders, the right to put up their own nominees for board membership. Boards of directors, so goes a dominant opinion, are not to be fully trusted to pick the right kind of people as directors or to shift the membership swiftly as circumstances change, […]

21 November 2017

Canada’s ‘questionable’ CEO pay system needs overhaul: Think tank

Current executive compensation practices are making Canadian CEOs rich, but at the expense of a strong corporate culture and the long-term interests of shareholders, according to a new report from the Institute for Governance of Private and Public Organizations (IGOPP). “Mutual trust, loyalty, the sharing of objectives and pride in the organization, the sense of […]