“Former Quebec pension fund boss roasted at hearing probing losses by the CBC News
Quebec’s pension fund has fared well in recent years despite the latest massive losses caused by the collapse of the asset-backed commercial paper market, said the former head of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2009/05/19/quebec-caisse-hearings.html
“Quebecers can still have every reason to be proud of the Caisse,” said Henri-Paul Rousseau in his opening statement Tuesday at a parliamentary commission probing the pension fund’s staggering $40 billion losses last year.
Rousseau spent Tuesday morning deflecting a steady stream of accusations from commission members who reproached him for quitting his job at the Caisse, just as the pension fund was bleeding profits. Rousseau announced he was leaving the fund in May 2008 and remained on as an adviser to the board until the end of August 2008.
The former Caisse boss showed a “deep contempt for the interests of our nation” when he chose to accept a $400,000 departure bonus, said Amir Khadir, the legislature’s sole Quebec Solidaire MNA.
“As arrogance and contempt often hide a certain disregard, you preferred to resign in the middle of the storm,” Khadir added before being brought to order by the commission president.
Rousseau responded by saying he left a lucrative job in the private sector to serve Quebecers at the pension fund from 2002 to 2008, a choice that involved “heavy sacrifices,” he told the commission.
He is not to blame for the pension fund’s dismal returns in 2008, Rosseau said.
The fund was broadsided by the global economic crisis, and if it wasn’t for its investment in asset-backed commercial paper, it would have weathered the downturn much better, Rousseau said.
The Caisse has other issues, Rousseau added, including trouble “training, recruiting and keeping competent staff,” he said.
The new head of the fund is Michael Sabia, former head of Bell Canada Enterprises, who took over in March of this year.”
Dumont says Charest hiding Caisse losses Montreal Gazette November 29 2008
QUEBEC – ADQ leader Mario Dumont claimed this morning that Premier Jean Charest had a “grand strategy” to hide “unprecedented” losses at Quebec’s pension fund manager.
In a news conference Saturday, he came close to calling Charest a liar, claiming that Charest’s statement that he has no information on the Caisse losses is “not honest” and “in itself unbelievable.”
He claimed that Charest had deliberately blocked in September the nomination of an ADQ supporter, businessman Jean-Guy Desjardins, in favour of a Liberal supporter, Richard Guay, as president of the Caisse in order to control information coming out of the Caisse.
“He planned in advance that during the campaign he would be able to keep the information hidden,” Dumont said. “He put in place the mechanism and the people that would allow him to hide the truth from the people until the end of the campaign.”
Charest has stated that he wants the Caisse to remain autonomous and doesn’t want to politicize the Caisse by forcing it to reveal how much money it has lost because of the financial crisis.
“I agree it should remain autonomous,” Dumont said. “It’s him who has politicized the Caisse. It’s him who blocked a nomination in favour of a Liberal.”
Dumont claims the Caisse, which manages $155 billion in pension funds and automobile insurance contributions, has lost about $30 billion in the last few months because of the collapse of global markets.
The Caisse is reported to have sold at a loss about $10 billion in securities to meet its financial obligations. The Caisse has stated that the figure is smaller but refuses to give an exact number.
Transport Minister Julie Boulet is the third minister in the Charest government subject to a “verification” by the chief electoral officer, after suggesting that companies are financing the Quebec Liberal Party. Boulet, like Education Minister Michelle Courchesne and Norman MacMillan, the junior transport minister, said the Quebec Liberal Party does accept financial contributions from companies. Québécois leader Pauline Marois called for an investigation into how the Liberals raise campaign money when she heard the news about Boulet. “One slip of the tongue is okay, two slips is okay, three slips, it starts to get worrisome,” Marois said. “It’s against the law.” Quebec’s 1977 party financing law established the principle that only Quebec voters may give to a political party, setting the maximum contribution at $3,000. That means companies, unions or people living outside the province may not give to Quebec parties. http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Boulet+eyed+electoral+officer/2614662/story.html