The cost of electricity is a hot button issue in Ontario's election campaign, with a few dozen protesters gathering in the rain outside Tuesday's meeting to watch Conservative Leader Doug Ford appear on the sidewalk and continue his attacks on Hydro One's "six million dollar man" - Mr. Schmidt's compensation totalled $6.2-million a year ago.
"As the largest single shareholder in Hydro One, the government of Ontario was dissatisfied with the specific proposals for executive compensation when they were brought forward by the board", Thibeault said.
Ford has vowed to fire the president and CEO of Hydro One and the board of directors if elected.
And all three are charged up on their opposition to at least one topic: the Hydro One board decision to give themselves a major pay raise this year.
Hydro One says its first-quarter profit rose to $222 million, which was up 33 per cent from the same time a year ago.
The CEO's salary has exploded and now the board members have received $14 million in "bonuses", while the stock has dropped 14%, he said.
She maintained her government's decision to sell more than half of Hydro One to raise about $9 billion to pay down electricity system debt and help fund public transit improvements was the right move.
The rally also included a lone counter-protester.
In response, Hydro One chair David Denison said the utility would seek additional advice, hold discussions with shareholders and review its current compensation practices.
"It's a little premature to say we're going to go in there and buy it back".
"It's not a sham", Denison said about the pending review. In April, Ontario regulators blocked the company's planned $41-million acquisition of Orillia's city-owned power grid over concerns about the long-term affect on the price consumers will pay for electricity. Last year, Schmidt's pay increased 38 per cent and his severance (in the event that he's fired following a change in control at the company) shot up to $10.7 million. It has paid a dividend of 22 cents per share since last June. They gave themselves a pay increase up to $185,000.
"We operate in the private sector and consequently all our benchmarking for both executive compensation and our other benchmarking is appropriately done in the private sector", Denison told reporters.
More raises at Hydro One - this time for the chairman and board of directors - have turned the former Crown utility into a bigger lightning rod on the June 7 election trail, putting Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne on the defensive again. Over the past year, Hydro One shares declined from a high of $23 to $19 levels, closing on Tuesday at $19.34. This plan is still on the table, but on Tuesday, management said the main drivers of earnings growth will come from consolidating local distribution companies in Ontario and cutting costs - the company got rid of 1,000 vehicles over the past year. "We don't have a view or a bias in that election ... but we're not losing our focus as an organization in the meantime".
"The increase in directors' compensation will bring the Hydro One board closer to, but still below median of, this broader peer group", the AGM circular states. The province has a 47 per cent stake in the company. "We're the only ones with a plan to return Hydro to public control".
Thibeault slammed Ford's plan to fire the board, calling it a "reckless, chaotic approach".
"The Ontario election will contribute to share price volatility over the next month", a Tuesday report from CIBC World Markets analyst Robert Catellier said.