Presence of French |  CDPQ touches CN's fingers again

Presence of French | CDPQ touches CN’s fingers again

The Canadian National (CN) continues to be tormented by the Caisse de Depot et Placement du Québec (CDPQ), one of its main shareholders, for having excluded Francophones from its board of directors. The institution points the finger at two administrators of the Montreal railway, which is subject to the Official Languages ​​Law.

Julien Arsenault

Julien Arsenault

After calling the situation “unacceptable” last month, the Caisse added another layer by opposing the re-election of two of the company’s 11 directors. They are Kevin Lynch and Robert Phillips, members of the governance and nominating committee, in charge of recruiting board members. Aged 71, the two men are the deans of the board of directors.

Officially, the wool stocking of Quebecers refrained from supporting the re-election of the two men, last Friday, on the occasion of the annual meeting of the Canadian National Railway Company. However, he went further on Tuesday, clarifying the substance of his thinking, although CN promised to correct the situation.

“The CDPQ deplores the absence of French-speaking directors on the board of directors,” he said. Governance Committee Letter […] establishes that its members are responsible for establishing the composition of the board of directors. »

For each of the applications, the CDPQ “opposes” the return of the candidates. As of 2021, this committee had four members. The Fund did not directly specify why it had targeted MM. Lynch and Phillips, but they are “long-standing members” of the governing committee, he notes.

However, this departure from the Fund is symbolic. MM. Lynch and Phillips were reelected and will return. However, they had the highest abstention rates (5.4% and 4.77%). Last year, Mr. Phillips stepped down as chairman of the governance committee, but remains a director. CN declined to comment on CDPQ’s decision.

According to the most recent data from the financial data firm Refinitiv, CDPQ ranks seventh among the main shareholders of the largest railway company in the country with an approximate participation of 1.8% (12.3 million shares). It was not possible to know the identity of the other large investors who abstained from voting for the re-election of MM. Lynch and Phillips.

University Laval management department professor Yan Cimon, who specializes in governance issues, believes the departure of the Quebec pension plan administrator is a clear message to CN management.

“Refraining from voting and letting the percentages speak is not the same as going out in public,” he explained in a telephone interview. By coming out publicly, the message is very clear. The Caisse really wants to express its opposition. His voice is broadcast because he is a major institutional investor. »


Yan Cimon is a professor in the department of administration at Université Laval

Since February 28, CN has been run by Tracy Robinson, a monolingual Anglophone who is currently taking French lessons to master the language. Her predecessor, Jean-Jacques Ruest, was perfectly bilingual.

Along with this linguistic storm, Press recently revealed that Molière’s language was also undermined in the workplace in Quebec. Since then, CN has said that he is reviewing his linguistic methods.

francophones wanted

Former Quebec Premier Jean Charest was the last francophone to serve on the CN board of directors. He resigned on March 31, less than two months after being drafted, to run for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. Despite the departure of Mr. Charest, the company has not retained any local candidates to serve on the Board of Directors.

In the midst of turmoil, the company has promised to add a French-speaking person to its team in the coming months. The services of a firm have been retained as part of the process, Shauneed Bruder, the new chairman of the board of directors, said last Friday.

“CN takes this process seriously,” he said. It will be rigorous, honest and consistent with our governance practices. »

A timeline was not provided. METERI Bruder did not explain why CN needed a company’s help to hire a French-speaking manager. When starting the process on April 26, the company limited itself to saying that the appointment was expected “in the coming months.”

On the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday, CN shares fell 1.35%, or $1.94, to close at $141.30.

More information

  • 22,600
    This is the total NC template. The company has 4,000 employees in Quebec.

    SOURCE: Canadian National Railways

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