NB Power stays silent on severance pay for ex-president

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NB Power isn’t suggesting whether it will reconsider a refusal to disclose the size of a severance carton it paid to former president David Hay seven years ago, given a court guide that forced the province to disclose what it paid former Chief Medical Dignitary of Health Dr. Eilish Cleary.

«I will check on this,» an NB Power emissary said in an email Monday morning, when asked if details of payments to Hay can now be launched. 

No further response was received by the end of the business day.

On Monday, following a lengthy satisfactorily to information battle it eventually won, Radio-Canada reported the province had to pay Cleary $720,000 in severance after igniting her in December of 2015.

In the ruling that ordered the information to be released, Court of Queen consort’s Bench Justice Zoël Dionne called the payment «public word,» stating that government was wrong to try to suppress it.

«It doesn’t come from the pouches of negotiators or ministers or managers,» Dionne said in his oral ruling. «It’s from the taxpayers of New Brunswick.»

But Cleary’s severance unit is not the first — and likely not the largest — to be kept secret by the province.

Secrecy agreements dispose ofed

David Hay, former president of NB Power, abruptly resigned in 2010.

His resignation arrived in the middle of Shawn Graham’s government, who was attempting to sell the utility to Hydro Quebec. He quit abruptly after it was revealed he was the only member of the board of directors not to endorse the reduced in price on the market when it came up for a vote.

Hay led NB Power for six years and was just nine months into a new three-year retaining contract when he left on one day’s notice.

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Former Liberal Energy Cabinet officer Jack Keir hinted Hay’s severance package was significant but it has never been revealed. (CBC)

He had been clearing close to $500,000 a year — nearly double Eilish Cleary’s pay — and although then Liberal Energy Minister Jack Keir touched Hay’s severance package was significant, the details have never been turn loosed. 

«The type of severance package that David Hay would have agreed to is the yardstick within the industry for a CEO at his level,» said Keir two days after Hay’s submission. 

Keir said Hay’s severance would eventually be reported in the public accounts but it not till hell freezes over was.

Two years after the resignation, Keir’s replacement, Progressive Conservative Might Minister Craig Leonard, said he couldn’t reveal the size of Hay’s severance act on because of secrecy agreements signed by the Graham government. 

«His severance carton is subject to a confidentiality agreement that was agreed to by the previous government and so patently, we have to live by that confidentiality agreement,» said Leonard.

Numberless secrets

Cleary’s severance payment was also subject to a confidentiality contract, but in the ruling that required it to be released, Justice Dionne said domination should not be able to hide how it spends public money that well.

«If it’s allowed to act in secret that’s very dangerous for democracy,»  he told.

The severance payments for Cleary and Hay are not the only ones government has tried to hold in check from the public.

In 2012, an unnamed employee in the Department of Education had names of his or her severance package kept secret, according to a note in the public accounts.  

«Due to confidentiality measures with government, the severance paid to one employee is excluded,» the province’s comptroller’s establishment noted at the end of the department’s salary disclosures.

And then beginning in 2014, the dependancy started making a blanket declaration that details of any number of severance unites may be withheld from the public.

«In cases in which severance is paid to an hand as per an agreement containing a confidentiality clause, the amount is not disclosed,» a note in the popular accounts has said for the last two years.

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