Crawl Across the Ocean

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Hindsight - Keeping Score

The world of current events, almost by definition, precludes much reflection on what has been said in the past by people and how it ended up looking once more information was available.

The most obvious example that comes to mind of where this sort of reflection is useful is the Iraq war. Anyone who supported it has taken a pretty serious hit to their credibility on any foreign affairs issues and their opinions should be discounted somewhat on any similar issues which arise in future.

But there are lots more examples going on around us all the time where we can compare what was said at the time to what became clear later on. Consider David Dingwall. From a cbc report today.
"David Dingwall was doing a good job running the Royal Canadian Mint when lingering hostility within the federal Liberal party forced him to resign, according to an independent report released Wednesday.

The report by arbitrator George Adams upheld a $417,780 severance payment the former Liberal cabinet minister received in February, along with a $42,010 annual pension.

"Politics as a 'blood sport' may explain [the federal government's] ... conduct but cannot justify its treatment of Dingwall," wrote Adams, a retired Ontario judge."

Now consider this post and subsequent comments over at Bound By Gravity.

How did Andrew and the multitude of commenters fare, as viewed with 20/20 hindsight?

Two CAtO Hindsight points for the anonymous 'Observer' who commented,
"The most obvious scenario, he resigned before being fired, is something that a judge can easily deem have occurred and thus to be worthy of severance.

You and the CPC can yammer all about letter of the law all you want but it's pretty easy for both a judge and the "common" man to discern what went on here.

Also, on these kinds of issues the CPC almost always looks petty. Penny-wise but pound foolish as they say."

and also,
"In the normal case, when someone is forced to leave or quits because of "management conflicts" a severance is expected.

The "entitlement" theme of this is just another of the CPCs pointless rants based on an almost intentional refusal to look at the facts except through CPC talking points. It's only "entitlement" if you ignore what Robert was getting at and you ignore what happens on an almost daily basis by some poorly managed companies trying to screw out of favour employees."

One CAtO Hindsight point for Robert, who commented,
Herein lies your problem. There is voluntarily quitting, where you just decide it's time to pack it in and then there is "voluntarily" quiting, where you and your employer decide it's time for you to pack it in. Dingwall did the latter and now you rubes are clinging to nothing more than semantics to make your case."

One CAtO Hindsight point for KevinG who initially argued with Observer but ended up commenting,
"OK, I checked with an employment lawyer.

1. If you get fired for cause there's no severance.
2. In practice it's almost impossible to get fired for cause because it's hard to prove(apparently you'd have to be screwing a german shepard at a board meeting or something).
3. If you do get fired but not for cause you could probably get 2 years pay out of a law suit.
4. Everyone knows this so they just pay the CEO a severance package.

So, it may be common practice to pay CEO's two years salary when they have committed offenses which could get them fired. I'm left to wonder whether common practice lends legitimacy to something that in most peoples minds, is quite clearly wrong."

0 CAtO Hindsight points for Balbulican, Occam's Carbuncle, Mike, DCardno, JohnG, JM, ebt, Reg, Eliza, D.C. Macdonald, Choo Choo Man, Dalton, and anyone else I might have missed. Luckily for some on this list, these are only hindsight points, and what counts is whether one was right or wrong - there are no extra points taken off for being obnoxiously smug about how right one is while being wrong. Reading the whole long thread, I have to give credit to Observer for standing his or her ground unruffled in the face of quite an onslaught.

-1 CAtO Hindsight point for M.K. Braaten for writing,
"Could it be that David Dingwall may know details about the sponsorship program that Mr Martin does not want the public to know? Or perhaps he knows something about the allegations of how the Martin linked Earnscliff consulting funded Paul Martin’s leadership campaign with money earned through government contracts? Would this explain why the Liberals are so insistent that Dingwall get paid? To keep his mouth shut?

Although I am just speculating, it does cause one to wonder."

The negative is not for being wrong in the first case, but for piling further incorrect partisan speculation on top of the initial error.

And finally -1 CAtO Hindsight point for Andrew for quoting M.K. approvingly.

And if anyone wants to dig through the archive here to find some stuff I've been wrong on, I welcome the effort (although my non-committal writing style may cause trouble). We're all about accountability here at CAtO.


  • check out what Rona Ambrose just did to an environment canada scientist.
    apparently civil servants just lost their rights to free speech

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:59 PM  

  • If not fired for cause and the person quits because the employer wants them to quit it is called 'constructive dismissal' and is considered he same as being fired without cause.

    However, the former employee has to demonstrate that they made reasonable effort to demonstrate that their working environment was not reasonable.

    There is over 100 criteria to determine what a reasonable severance is.

    Dingwall had a case.

    By Blogger Mark Richard Francis, at 8:52 PM  

  • anon: I wonder what would have happened if the book was skeptical about global warming. This is starting to get ridiculous.

    Mark - It's too late, no more points are left to be awarded! (but thanks for the comment!)

    By Blogger Declan, at 10:29 PM  

  • Mark - you're not suggesting that the PM (among others) lied to the House when he said that the Dinger resigned voluntarily, are you? Heaven forfend!

    By Blogger deaner, at 5:58 PM  

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