Beyond the Headlines

A culture of entitlement

Posted: May 16, 2012 11:19 AM ET Last Updated: May 16, 2012 11:19 AM ET

"I can't believe we are even having this conversation".

That was the reaction from Emera's spokesperson when I called looking for confirmation of a tip we received that the company threw a lavish private party for its board of directors and senior management team, the day after applying for yet another rate hike. The implication was clear: in their view this was a non-story.

Judging from the flood of comments on our website, most Nova Scotians disagree.

So do our political leaders, who literally lined up at Province House to join the chorus of critics.

Of course, it didn't help that the party story completed a trifecta of head-shaking news from Nova Scotia Power. First, the company's application for another rate hike - 6% over two years - and then the revelations some senior executives received pay increases that would make even Donald Trump blush.

Intellectually, we all know rising power rates have far more to do with an aging infrastructure and the rising cost of coal, than any executive salaries. We know that even if those salaries were slashed and the company entertained its board of directors at a backyard BBQ, our power rates would not go down. But it's the optics that drive people wild.

It's reminiscent of the Auditor General's report into MLA spending. As a portion of the provincial budget, the cost of those fancy cameras, top of the line espresso machines and big screen TV's, were miniscule.

Both are more about attitude than cost. They speak of a contempt for taxpayers and/or consumers; of a culture of entitlement.

In the past few years Nova Scotia Power has taken several steps to try to stabilize power rates. It's efforts to increase the efficiency of its generating plants, the Muskrat Falls deal and the move to renewable energy sources are all positive steps.

But the next time Nova Scotia Power customers open their power bill they won't see any of that.The only thing they'll see are a bunch of over-paid executives dancing the night away at their expense.

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About the Author

Brian DuBreuil is a veteran journalist with CBC News. He has won two Gemini awards for his work, and neither involved dancing or singing on a reality show.

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