Bombardier Pay Challenged as Opposition Pressures Premier

  • Executives got bonuses while planning to cut 14,000 jobs
  • Quebec invested $1 billion to help beleagured C Series program

Quebec’s main opposition party plans to introduce a motion this week urging Premier Philippe Couillard to formally ask Bombardier Inc.’s senior executives to renounce their 2016 pay raises.

Philippe Couillard

Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

Executive payouts at Bombardier have generated public anger in the company’s home province as the maker of planes and trains boosted compensation almost 50 percent after receiving taxpayer aid and announcing plans to cut more than 14,000 jobs. Quebec invested $1 billion in Bombardier’s C Series jetliner program, which entered service more than two years late and billions of dollars over budget.

While Executive Chairman Pierre Beaudoin offered Friday to forfeit his pay increase for 2016, Bombardier declined to comment on whether five other senior managers -- including Chief Executive Officer Alain Bellemare -- would follow suit. Television images showed hundreds of people gathered Sunday in front of the company’s downtown Montreal headquarters to demonstrate against the payouts, with some chanting: “Shame on Bombardier.”

Bombardier has “a moral responsibility toward Quebeckers,” Alain Therrien, a lawmaker with the Parti Quebecois, told RDI television in an interview Sunday. “They came to ask us for help, and we gave them help.”

Alain Bellemare

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The Parti Quebecois plans to introduce its motion on Bombardier in the provincial legislature on Tuesday, spokeswoman Antonine Yaccarini said Sunday on her Twitter account.

Opposition Urges

Another opposition lawmaker, Simon Jolin-Barrette of the Coalition Avenir Quebec, told RDI his party would urge the government to reopen the $1 billion investment deal to press for job guarantees.

Ninety-three percent of respondents in a Leger Marketing online poll conducted for Journal de Montreal disagree with Bombardier’s decision to boost the compensation of senior executives last year. Eighty-four percent also said Quebec should review its support for the company. Leger polled 501 Quebec residents Friday and Saturday, and results are considered to be accurate to within 4.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao told the TVA television network on Friday that he was shocked by the payouts and urged the company’s board to rethink the compensation policy.

Jean Monty, who heads Bombardier’s compensation committee, defended the company’s practices on Saturday as “sound” and “fully and appropriately aligned with value creation.” They “reflect the global nature of the business and our need to attract and retain the very best Canadian and global talents,” he said in a letter posted to Bombardier’s website.

More than half of the executive pay for 2016 “is conditioned on Bombardier delivering improved performance for at least the next three years,” Monty said. If the company doesn’t perform and the stock price doesn’t increase, “this money will never be paid.”

Government House Leader Jean-Marc Fournier, who attended Sunday’s demonstration, reiterated Leitao’s call for Bombardier to scale back the pay increases.

“If I’m here today, it’s to say in the name of the government that we hear the voice of Quebeckers,” Fournier told RDI. “At the same time, we want Bombardier to hear this voice and review the decision that they took.”

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