Ready, aye ready

That’s a silly looking photo of Rick Hillier in my morning paper. The former Chief of Defence Staff appears to be standing atop the stone plinth outside the TD branch at King and Bay promoting the bank he just joined.

At this rate, TD CEO Ed Clark, another escapee from Ottawa who had previously retained former politician and ambassador Frank McKenna, will soon alter the entire culture at TD Bank. Clark’s performance is rightly praised but his predecessors did well, too, even those for whom Ottawa was a place you only visited every ten years when the Bank Act was being revised.

And that’s an even sillier quote attributed to Hillier who reportedly told a group of bankers, “If you guys fail in your succession plans, you can always hire from the competition. I can’t hire from the Taliban.” Ed Clark praised the comment because he said it captured the importance of leadership development. To me, the statement demeans the men and women we have put in harm’s way. Compared to the potential of dying in Afghanistan, worrying about corporate succession is a paltry past-time.

I was bothered a few months back by the fact that Hillier resigned his job as Canada’s top soldier when he was only in his early 50s. Did he have nothing else to give our armed forces who need strong leadership as much as modern weaponry? The answer why he stepped down may now becoming clear: he wanted to take his remaining productive years and make some real money.

What the country does not need is another high-paid door-opener at a chartered bank.

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