Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford renews attack on Hydro One CEO and board

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford is calling on the CEO and board of Hydro One to resign immediately after a newspaper reported that the board has agreed to measures that would increase the CEO's severance if the government intervenes in the company.

Ford would consider 'retroactive legislation' to block severance policy changes

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford is calling on the CEO and board of Hydro One to resign immediately after a newspaper reported that the board has agreed to measures that would increase the CEO's severance if the government intervenes. (CBC)

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford is calling on the CEO and board of Hydro One to resign immediately after a newspaper reported that the board has agreed to measures that would increase the CEO's severance if the government intervenes in the company.

Ford said Thursday that he would use legislation to remove Hydro One's board and its president and CEO Mayo Schmidt, whom he calls Premier "Kathleen Wynne's $6-million dollar man."

According to Hydro One, Schmidt earns more than $6 million in yearly compensation, which includes salary and bonuses. 

"If the CEO and board at Hydro One have any respect for their customers, any respect for Ontario, any respect for the people, they should resign. They should resign immediately today," Ford told reporters.

"If they don't, let me tell you something, when I'm premier, you'd better believe I'm kicking each and every one of them out the door, and taking their hands out of the pockets of the hardworking taxpayers." 
Hydro One has applied to the Ontario Energy Board raise its electricity distribution rates. The electricity company says it's to pay for necessary system upgrades and maintenance. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

If elected, Ford said in the news release that he would consider "retroactive legislation" that would ensure that the executives and board members would not be able to enrich themselves if removed from their positions.

Last week, Ford said he would fire the CEO and the board of Hydro One if he was elected even though the government does not have control of the company. 

Ford did not tell the news conference how the legislative tools would work to reverse the measures.

Liberal Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault however, said there is no reason to fire Schmidt because his work has actually saved rate-payers more than $100 million.

"I understand that this is a high salary, but again if we are talking about helping rate-payers, and this is what the focus is for Mr. Ford and the Conservatives, they are not doing anything by doing this, except creating more of a scary climate for business in this province." 
Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt, whom Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford calls Premier 'Kathleen Wynne's $6-million dollar man,' earns more than $6 million in yearly compensation. (Viterra)

According to Toronto's Globe and Mail on Wednesday, the changes to Hydro One's policies governing executive compensation would boost the severance given to the CEO in the event he is fired, or the board is removed, or if the government enacts laws designed to limit executive pay, or that undermine the provincial utility's efforts to reach corporate goals. 

Hydro One disclosed these changes in a "proxy circular" to shareholders this year, according to the Globe and Mail, which said the board approved them last fall. Ford said the changes were approved in a "secret vote."

'This is outrageous'

Under these changes, it would cost the government more to intervene in the company. Ford called the changes a "poison pill."

The Globe and Mail said Schmidt, if terminated due to a change of company control, he would be in line to get $10.7 million in compensation, but would get $5.04 million if fired for other reasons.

"This is outrageous, this is shameful and it is absolutely disgusting," Ford said. 

"While Ontario seniors are unable to pay their bills, pay for their rent, families are forced to choose between heating and eating, the Hydro's millionaire's club changed the rules in a secret meeting so they can give themselves millions more for being fired," he said.

Ford said the changes took place while Kathleen Wynne was Ontario premier and he alleged that she chose to do nothing.

If elected, Ford said he will start to clean up the "Hydro mess" and will lower hydro bills.

Hydro One, which says it is Canada's largest electricity transmission and distribution service provider, has not yet responded for comment.