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‘Immoral’? That’s rich
Re China’s Envoy Assails Canada’s ‘Immoral’ Concerns Over Takeovers (April 19): I would laugh about the envoy’s comments if the situation weren’t so unreal. Why would we let a country whose government limits what can be said and accessed on the Internet, and hunts down its critics to the extent that they are kidnapped and forced to “confess” their wrongs, buy us out?
Chinese officials have the effrontery to complain about something as mild as the press in Canada doing its job and reporting on trips paid for by the Chinese government, and expect our government to stop the media from doing so. This is an unusual way to approach prospective partners.
If we have to do business China’s way in China, then China should expect the same conditions to be placed on it here. China’s authoritarian government leaders run businesses, especially state-owned businesses, to their benefit. No one sees China as a free market.
As for the Belt and Road initiative, coercion seems to play a large part in setting up the infrastructure. Ask the folks in Sri Lanka about port deals there.
Jeff Sutton, Ottawa
What figures in a Top 10 list depends on who is crafting it. When it comes to the most powerful repressive societies though, China pretty much ticks all the list makers’ boxes. It’s “immoral” for Canadians to oppose Chinese takeovers of our businesses? That’s rich. It would be immoral not to.
Rachel Clark, Winnipeg
Hydro One’s poison pill
Re Hydro One Board Increases Price Tag For Government Intervention By Raising CEO Severance Provisions (April 19): The revelation that Hydro One’s board passed provisions accelerating an already remarkably generous entitlement to members of the board and executive if they are fired is shocking.
In governance circles, these prophylactic provisions are known as a “poison pill,” a mechanism invented during the Barbarians at the Gate era to dissuade raiders from taking over companies via stock purchase. As mercenary as they may be, poison pills are intended to protect shareholders against takeovers, not the boards and executives against the shareholders!
In Hydro One’s case, this multimillion-dollar largess is to defend against an express right of the minority shareholder – that’s us, the citizens – to remove the board if desired. The genesis and rationale is entirely “if the people decide to remove the board and executive, we’ll block that via the enormous windfall to us that results.”
We need to be mindful. These “pills” are “poison”: The phrase references a corporation ingesting accelerated cost to protect its own against invaders. They are frowned upon by governance experts and by the courts.
In the instance of Hydro One, the mechanism is not intended to protect against raiders; it’s intended to protect against a responsible electorate that may decide to replace them.
Defensible, not so much.
Mark V. Ellis, author, Fiduciary Duties in Canada, visiting professor, Queen’s Law
Re Ottawa To Boost Powers To Push Through Trans Mountain (April 19): I teach and research in the area of the sociology of emotions. The experience of collective guilt can be powerful when members of a group look upon their actions (or inactions) with a sense of shared wrong-dong and responsibility.
The federal government is launching into a legislative strategy that limits guilt through the assertion of the dominance of its position. This is the guilt associated with failed processes relative to First Nations, the absence of proper environmental review and the reality of the void where a meaningful disaster-mitigation plan should be.
One can see the words of a future prime minster in the making here: “We are sorry for not honouring our commitments to First Nations, we are sorry for undermining municipal, provincial and federal relationships, we are most sorry for the irrevocable environmental harm done. Madame Speaker, we failed Canadians.”
Scott Grills, Sociology, Brandon University
Goodwill? Picture it
Re Ottawa Won’t Interfere In Art Dispute, Joly Says (April 19): The National Gallery appears to be losing opportunities, as well as hearts and minds.
It is a shame that part of the justification for the disposal of a Chagall was that it was in storage anyway. A truly national gallery would be sensitive to geography, rather than possessive of it. What other great works are collecting dust in back rooms when they could be displayed in major galleries in each province with a sign: “On semi-permanent loan from the National Gallery of Canada”?
Great PR, great for tourism, great for nation-building. This vision would encourage co-operation and respect of the provenance of the Jacques-Louis David and result in priceless goodwill.
Susan Hudson, Guelph, Ont.
Quite apart from the highly questionable decision by the board of the National Gallery to sell the Chagall, it is the arrogance of its director Marc Mayer that is particularly grating. Where is the sensitivity to the heritage or cultural values of Quebec? Based on his remarks, one has to question his competence and professionalism as the head of a national institution. He does not seem to care that two highly respected museums in Quebec should have priority for the purchase of the David, nor is he willing to consider a partnership. It is no wonder that so many in Quebec look upon the rest of Canada with suspicion.
Richard Lindo, Ottawa
Marc Mayer was appointed as the director of the National Gallery of Canada. Let him do the job he was hired for. He’s obviously involved in a turf war with the Quebec museums, the politics of which are murky to me. And frankly, I don’t care, as long as I can go over to the National Gallery any day of the week and enjoy the Voice of Fire!
Suellen Seguin, Ottawa
Re Comey’s God Complex Has Hindered His Impact (April 18): After reading James Comey’s book, A Higher Loyalty, I think Mr. Comey, as evidenced by his writing, strives to be an honourable man, much concerned with justice and doing what he believes to be right and honest.
Lawrence Martin accuses him of having a God complex. That seems uncharitable. He does not come across as “above it all” – he has his doubts and feelings of failure like anyone else. The few comments he makes about Donald Trump’s appearance are nothing that those reading them hadn’t thought of or remarked on.
Maureen McKee, Burlington, Ont.
James Comey is delivering an essential message to the Americans who did not vote in the last election against a President who demands loyalty as the essential accomplishment of his administration. Don’t shoot the messenger.
Robert Marcucci, Toronto