Friday, April 3, 2009

The Caisse thinks it can solve one crisis, by creating another

Quite apart from my recent personal experience with Michael Sabia and his inherently flawed, public (so called) auction of BCE, he is creating one hell of a mess with his backroom appointment to become the CEO of the Caisse.

Why are some people so adept at stepping in “it” all the time?

The Caisse has just gone through one of the most troubling periods of its existence. Their delving into ABCP without understanding what they were getting into, as one of the major causes of their massive losses in 2008, underscores the absolute need for professional management of the Caisse, now more than ever.. Michael Sabia has virtually nothing on his resume to qualify him for this role he wishes to assume. If there were ever a time for professional management of the Caisse’s affairs and knowledgeable and experienced guidance of its investment portfolio, now is that time.

The various and sundry proposals that seem to come daily out of Michael Sabia to make amends to the problem at hand, only add to the carnival nature of his appointment and are an insult to one’s intelligence and contrary to good public governance of an important financial institution in Quebec. How does agreeing to cut back on his bonuses or pension entitlement serve as remedy to being grossly unqualified? Simple answer: It does not. How does agreeing to forgo his out-of-the-money BCE options serve to remedy the superficial process that was followed that led to Sabia’s appointment? The simple answer: It does not.

This is the least favorable times for the management of the Caisse to be handed to someone with no experience in investing pension monies. The public trust is being abused by this appointment and the means by which it came about. The public trust should be the paramount concern on this matter. Michael Sabia’s unquenchable desires and personal ambitions are completely irrelevant to the question at hand. So too are his litany of so called “remedies”. You can’t cure a cold with a flight to Miami, or fix a leaky roof with an ice cream cone, so how do you expect to remedy someone’s absence of qualifications with a change in their compensation? It's not like that money is going to be used to send him back to school for a course in portfolio management.

The only remedy to the situation that Michael Sabia has created for himself is to withdraw himself from this appointment. After all, he did say he wanted this job in order to serve the greater public good. The only way to optimize such a professed desire on his part, is to remove his name from consideration and insist that the Board of the Caisse do what it was called upon to do in the first place, and perform an exhaustive search for the most qualified person.

Michael Sabia’s name would not be on that list, if such a process had taken place at the outset and consequently nor should it be on the door leading to the Office of the CEO of the Caisse de depot.


Dr Mike said...

What scares me is that he used to be Director-General of Tax Policy in the Department of Finance.

Of course that previous job led him straight down the path of least resistance to have income trusts put on the shelf for his own benefit.

Why does it seem that just about everyone that was involved in the Trust debacle worked for the gov`t or was closely associated with them at one time or another.


Dr mike.

Anonymous said...

They are hiring him based on his connections to the Department of Finance and the Privy Council.  Unfortunately, these connections didn't help him when it came to BCE.