The ins and the outs

This year’s nominees for The Canadian Business Hall of Fame have recently been announced and all are most deserving: Aldo Bensadoun, Guy Laliberte, Seymour Schulich, and Galen Weston. It’s a nice mix of old money and entrepreneurs, mining and entertainment. Over the years about 150 individuals have been inducted, both living and dead, and it’s a great list.

And yet. The closer you look, the more questions arise. For a time, it seemed the committee that chooses the winners would pick some who were living and also name one dead inductee. But dead people don’t buy tickets for the awards dinner, so in recent years, the winners are all still alive and able to fill the hall with colleagues and friends.

As a result, there are some anomalies. Among bankers, for example, winners include Ced Ritchie and Peter Godsoe of Scotiabank but not their predecessor, William Nicks, whom both would agree deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. It was Nicks, after all, who got the bank launched in international. Other top bankers not on the list are Neil McKinnon of the Commerce, Earle McLaughlin of the Royal, and Bill Mulholland of Bank of Montreal, all of whom were the best of their generation.

Here’s a few other MIAs. Sam Bronfman made it but not Peter and Edward Bronfman. What about John Angus (Bud) McDougald who started Argus Corp. and single-handedly ran the Toronto Club for years? How to explain the glaring absence of Power Corp.’s Paul Desmarais? Family businesses are important to the economy. One of the legends who’s missing is Mac Cuddy, who created a fowl empire. Why Howard Webster but not Ben Webster, an inventive money man if there ever was one? In the tech sector why Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis but not Terry Matthews? Where are the storied Bay Streeters such as Andy Sarlos and Jimmy Connacher? Or Bob Brown of Home Oil?

Women in particular are poorly represented. There are only three in the Hall of Fame. A.J. and J. W. Billes, founders of Canadian Tire, are both members. I’d add A.J.’s daughter, and the current controlling shareholder, Martha Billes. Wendy McDonald, of BC Bearing Engineers, is another who should be a shoo-in. And why is Gerry Schwartz in the Hall of Fame but not his wife, Heather Reisman?

Just asking.

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