Ford moving to fire Hydro One’s board of directors

 thestar.com  7/11/2018 8:34:15 PM 

Premier Doug Ford is clearing the way to zap the so-called “$6 million man” who runs Hydro One by firing the company’s board of directors, the Star has learned.

The Progressive Conservative cabinet moved Wednesday to fulfill an election promise to use government powers to replace the partially privatized utility’s board and get the new members to oust chief executive Mayo Schmidt, sources said.

A Hydro One office is pictured in Mississauga, Ont. in 2015. The Ontario government is preparing to fire the board of Hydro One.
A Hydro One office is pictured in Mississauga, Ont. in 2015. The Ontario government is preparing to fire the board of Hydro One.  (Darren Calabrese / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Schmidt emerged as Ford’s bete noir during the June 7 election campaign for his $6.2 million in total compensation last year, with the Progressive Conservative leader using the salary as a lightning rod for voters fed up with rising electricity prices.

But firing the head of the transmission company without cause could cost ratepayers up to $10.7 million.

That’s because the company’s securities filings were rewritten last year to ensure a replacement of the board within a two-year period would constitute a “change in control” at Hydro One, entitling Schmit to double the $5.04 million golden handshake he would received if terminated without cause otherwise.

Government House Leader Todd Smith hinted Tuesday that a move would be made soon.

“Dealing with the Hydro One situation is very much a priority going forward and stay tuned for details,” he told reporters.

Ford had promised in mid-April that firing the board and replacing Schmidt would be his “first act” in government, although it did not quite work out that way.

Critics have said the plan to fire Schmidt would send a chill through the corporate sector, and slammed it as a campaign slogan that would do nothing to lower electricity prices while costing millions at a time when Ford repeatedly says his new government will show “respect for taxpayers.”

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