Monday, February 13, 2006

Suffering contradiction

Thou shalt suffer by where thou has sinned. Maybe sooner.

A couple of weeks ago I taped a report about the Nortel financial fiasco, and I got around to watching it. It was on French CBC (Radio-Canada) in one of the docu-report shows.

It outlined in rather broad terms the financial shenanigans of several officers over several years. There was nothing new, at least not to me. One thing did catch my attention.

A member of Nortel’s administration council, a chartered accountant no less, was on tape saying something to the effect: “the accounting reporting practices were not exactly state of the art”.

This is an obvious statement that everyone is well aware… now. But then in the same sentence, no interview editing that I could see, she goes on to say “we are not responsible for ensuring that the public at large understands…” I’m thinking to myself, no problem there. Obfuscation was obviously the order of the day.

A few minutes later, and it’s really hard to tell which part of the interview came first, she then exclaims with a tinge of reproach in her voice that “the company officers were less than transparent” when asked if she knew about the president’s financial transgressions. That’s OK babe, the officers aren’t responsible for making sure the administration council, at large, understands. And she seemed genuinely surprised at what she was saying.

I wonder, in watching things like this, if people realize how so very stupid they sound, or think. If this were in isolation, I’d use my fallback position that “when you are born stupid, there is not much you can do about it”. But this was a person of education!

Now it’s entirely possible that some creative editing was done to create this dichotomy in her speech, but I don’t think so. It was too smooth, and I feel the editing was more so to point out the contradiction.

I do hope this lack of transparency cost her retirement, but I doubt it. Maybe this will be a lesson for the next council that she’s on… but I doubt that too. She’ll be cautious from the lack of transparency from above, but I’m willing to bet that she won’t make any kind of effort to ensure the public, at large, is properly informed.

And there lies the true dichotomy. There is no business case, no onus, no responsibility from any administration council to do what’s right. It has to come from individuals with higher moral value. Doing what’s right is it’s own reward, but it sure as hell won’t ensure a decent retirement.


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