Corporate Reprobates: BMO, Transocean

-- Download Corporate Reprobates: BMO, Transocean as PDF --

If you were to ask me this weekend whose corporate charters should be revoked, my easy answer would be BMO and Transocean.

The Bank of Montreal recently bought a Wisconsin bank that was a serious funder of their worker-bashing governor, whose anti-social legislation has since been [temporarily] struck down by the courts. Transocean, whose Deepwater Horizon debacle demonstrates one of the lingering crises of carbon-based energy, gave its executives some tasty “safety” bonuses last year.

This is sick, intolerable behaviour that needs to be disowned by our society if we even pretend respect integrity.

I certainly wouldn’t like BMO sponsoring my child’s soccer team. They’ve begun

a four-month cross-country Hockeyville-like promotion for soccer-playing kids aged 7-12, known as BMO Team of the Week, dangling a grand prize of a $125,000 field refurbishment and a trip to see the Toronto FC or Vancouver Whitecaps.

That all sounds harmless except when we think about BMO’s recent bad behaviour:

There is also a movement now to force BMO to oppose the union-bashing Republican governor of Wisconsin, since BMO recently bought Wisconsin’s M&I bank that funded him, a bank that paid sickening bonuses to its exiting board. In fact, the Madison, Wisconsin firefighters union members forced their branch of M&I to close a couple weeks ago as they collectively withdrew over $100,000 of their money from that bank in protest of its support of the governor.

By the way, M&I received $1.4 billion in US government bailout money WHICH THEY NEVER PAID BACK before BMO bought it for $4.1 billion.

In light of the worker-bashing style of right wing, anti-social governments in Wisconsin, Ohio, BC and the Canadian federal government, it is no surprise that two national Canadian unions are ramping up functional solidarity to confront this new escalation of class war where the hyper-rich are stripping worker rights, pensions and income to pay for the government bailouts of the…wait for it…hyper-rich.

Speaking of the hyper-rich and imfamous, let’s examine the cynical executives of Transocean, whose Deepwater Horizon reminds us that we should focus every bit of carbon-based energy left on the planet to build post-carbon energy infrastructure. Apparently,

Transocean Ltd. had its “best year in safety performance” despite the explosion of its Deepwater Horizon rig that left 11 dead and oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, the world’s largest offshore-rig company said in a securities filing Friday.

Accordingly, Transocean’s executives received two-thirds of their target safety bonus. Safety accounts for 25% of the equation that determines the yearly cash bonuses, along with financial factors including new rig contracts.

The payout contrasts with that for 2009, when the company withheld all executive bonuses after incurring four fatalities that year “to underscore the company’s commitment to safety.”

In a filing on executive pay, Transocean said, “Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico, we achieved an exemplary statistical safety record.” Based on the total rate of incidents and their severity, “we recorded the best year in safety performance in our company’s history.”

– via Transocean Cites Safety in Bonuses

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Is your life ending due to increasing insidious silence, or are you able to speak about the things that repulse you? There is a federal election going on. In BC we will have an HST referendum in June, a municipal election in the fall, a by-election for a newly selected premier this spring, more MLA recalls and a possible provincial election all before the end of the calendar year.

There are plenty of opportunities to speak with your votes, your political donations and your volunteer time to support the kind of society you want to belong to.

If you don’t, Dr. King’s message should ring loudly in your ears.

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Stephen Elliott-Buckley

Post-partisan eco-socialist. at Politics, Re-Spun
Stephen Elliott-Buckley is a husband, father, professor, speaker, consultant, former suburban Vancouver high school English and Social Studies teacher who changed careers because the BC Liberal Party has been working hard to ruin public education. He has various English and Political Science degrees and has been writing political, social and economic editorials since November 2002. Stephen is in Twitter, Miro and iTunes, and the email thing, and at his website,

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