Hydro One chief executive officer Mayo Schmidt fired back at Doug Ford on Tuesday, urging the Ontario Progressive Conservative leader not to hold back “a Canadian champion company” amid a relentless attack on the utility’s compensation practices.

“I don’t focus on the politics. My job and responsibilities are to deliver for shareholders and our customers,” Schmidt told reporters after Hydro One’s annual meeting in Toronto.

“Quite frankly, we’re creating a Canadian champion company,” he added. “And I would be very disappointed to see if there was an effort to impair that. But the fact is we’re focused on business and we’ll stay focused on business.”

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Ontario Progressive Conservative leader DougFord holds a rally to speak about Hydro One in Toronto on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim)

Ford has made Schmidt and Hydro One’s board of directors among his main targets in the provincial election campaign, routinely lambasting Schmidt’s $6.19-million compensation package last year and the $10.7-million severance package he would receive in the event of a change in control.

“I’m going to get rid of the $6-million man [Schmidt], he’s going,” Ford told reporters on Tuesday at a rally outside Hydro One’s meeting. “And the board is going. We have more than enough capable people to run Hydro. I can assure you that. They’re lined up from here to Timbuktu.”

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Demonstrators outside Hydro One's annual meeting on Tuesday. (Jameson Berkow/BNN Bloomberg)

Hydro One Chairman David Denison has been attempting to quell the criticism, announcing in late April the company will "conduct supplementary shareholder engagement and obtain independent advice" on its compensation practices.

“The board of directors is confident that the level of compensation for executives responsible for a $25-billion asset base company, a company with annual revenue over $6 billion, the mandate to expand the business both here in Ontario and outside of Ontario, as evidenced by the pending acquisition of Avista, that the [compensation] levels are appropriate,” Denison told reporters on Tuesday.  

Ontario Liberal candidate Glenn Thibeault, meanwhile, noted in a release on Tuesday the government abstained from Hydro One's say-on-pay vote at the company's annual meeting.

"This outcome stands in stark contrast to the reckless, chaotic approach that Doug Ford champions," Thibeault added. "By boasting that he will fire the entire board en masse, he offers no consideration for the negative impacts that he would unleash on ratepayers and shareholders."


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