So, Rick Wagoner, the suddenly retired CEO of General Motors Corp., drives off into the sunset with a pension package worth an estimated $23 million U.S. But given the brutal shape in which he leaves the beaten up behemoth, does he deserve it?

Observers say it’s positively galling to watch the top executive walk away from a company teetering on the brink of bankruptcy with a fat payout.

“It’s unconscionable,” said Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Workers union.

“During these times, it is morally and ethically wrong to hand out this kind of package. It should be tied to the performance of the company.”

CAW secretary-treasurer Jim O’Neill agreed that “it’s just not right, and people don’t understand it when workers are losing their jobs, and yet, he failed to bring the company back to recovery.

“It’s a great golden handshake, but he’s not going to get a lot of support for it in these times,” he added.

“Not only are the optics not good, they’re awful,” said Rick Powers, executive director of MBA programs at the Rotman School of Management.

GM and Chrysler have received $17.4 billion in publicly funded emergency loans south of the border to prop up the ailing companies.

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