Saturday, December 9, 2006

I'm entitled to my entitlements: Hydro One edition

This is beyond unbelievable. Despite getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar -- or to be more accurate, having his secretary spend $45,000 of his personal expenses on her corporate credit card -- Tom Parkinson resigns from Hydro One with a severance package of $3 million. Last year, he used the corporate helicopter, really the property of the people of Ontario, to fly to his cottage in Muskoka.

Once again, there are two sets of standards -- one for public servants, another for the rest of us.

A number of years back, I read about a court case where a guy who served his company for thirty-five years was fired after some pretty strong and credible accusations of sexual harrassment. Along with the dismissal came the forfeiture of his company pension, perhaps in the six figures each year for the rest of his life. He said he was entitled to it regardless of his behaviour or alleged behaviour, since he fiercely denied the improprieties. He initially won, but then the company appealed; and the Ontario Court of Appeal said that the company was in the right, since even though he wasn't a member of the union as an executive, the wording of the collective bargaining agreement made it clear that the "morals clause" applied to everyone from the top down, and since management co-signed what was essentially a legal contract, they had to abide by the rules too. Since the executive violated the anti-discrimination policy, he had to accept whatever penalties came with his dismissal.

Last I heard, the jerk -- can't remember his name -- was on the streets panning for money. Sweet justice.

We go ballistic if someone steals paperclips from a secretary, or abuses the "take a penny, leave a penny" incentive. But when it comes to the public service, we must pretend as if we see, hear or speak nothing. Sometimes I wonder why we even bother.

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