John Manley has been named to replace Tom d’Aquino as the head of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, the ultra-powerful lobby group for corporate Canada.
Manley is a great catch for the corporate kingdom. As former industry minister and finance minister, he comes to the job with credibility and respect. It will be much needed because one of these days the dam is going to burst on the issue of corporate entitlement.
How much can the people take?
Consider the record. The corporate kingdom was highly instrumental in crashing the economy and now the taxpayer has to foot the bill, the auto sector being the prime example, to bail the companies out.
Many among the financial elite who wreaked economic havoc have walked off with millions in golden handshakes and compensations. The outrageousness of perks and executive compensation is well-documented. Our prime minister is paid $300,000 per year. Corporate executives get that in a fortnight. If they screw up on the job, they end up getting more.
Their tax write-offs are something to behold. Our sport of hockey has become hostage to corporate boxes. If you don’t have an arena with 100 luxury suites, sorry, you don’t get a team. And if you have a team with suites, the fan has to pay hundreds of dollars to go to a game, partly because of the tax-break infrastructure that caters to the corporate culture.
Canada’s corporate taxation rate has gone down, down, down in modern times because of what basically amounts to blackmail. The corporations threaten to move offshore if they don’t get their way on tax breaks. The threat works, the result being that much of the tax burden falls to the rest of us.
Corporate boardroom structures are a farce. The boards of directors are often chosen by the executives of the corporation. The board then negotiates and doles out salaries and limos and airplanes, etc., to those same executives. Shareholders are supposed to be in control. It doesn’t work that way.
The time is ripe for an overhaul of corporate culture. In the United States, President Barack Obama announced a salary cap of $500,000 for executives of companies that receive a lot of bailout cash. But many of his measures against corporate greed have been watered down.
Here, much noise is made about the excesses of corporate entitlement. But action is another thing. This is stuff made in heaven for the New Democratic Party. For the Liberals it should be a high priority as well. The question is: Where are they?