board | CN finally finds its French-speaking candidate

Some five months after the Canadian National (CN) became embroiled in heated controversy for closing the doors of its board to Francophones, it is finally correcting the situation. His team will welcome Michel Letellier, President and CEO of Quebec’s renewable energy producer, Innergex.

Posted at 7:15 p.m

Julian Arsenal

Julian Arsenal
The press

The Canadian National Railway Company, incorporated in Montreal and governed by the Official Languages ​​ActShe confirmed the appointment, Thursday, in the early evening. The country’s largest rail freight operator justified the appointment of Mr. Letellier by praising his skills in the field of “sustainable development”.

He will join the company’s 11 current directors on April 1ah October.

“I doubt that the meetings will be held in French, but at least he will be the representative of the language,” stresses François Dauphin, Director General of the Institute for the Governance of Private and Public Organizations (IGOPP). At least CN keeps its word. »

As CN’s board grows, the situation could be temporary, the airline suggested.

“The appointment allows for a planned transition pending retirements,” the company said in an emailed statement.

good alone

Mr. Letellier will be the only board member of the railway who speaks the language of Molière. Tracy Robinson, President and CEO of CN, is still learning the language. His predecessor, Jean-Jacques Ruest, was fully bilingual.


PHOTO DAVID BOILY, LA PRESSE ARCHIVE

Michel Letellier, President and Chief Executive Officer of Innergex, will be the only French-speaking member of CN’s Board of Directors.

Former Quebec Prime Minister Jean Charest, recruited last January, quickly resigned about two months later to run for leadership of Canada’s Conservative Party. CN did not see fit to replace him with a French-speaking administrator.

When The press uncovered the situation last April, the rail freight carrier was heavily criticized. The Caisse de depot et placement du Québec – one of CN’s main shareholders – had backed away from its usual reluctance to describe the situation as “unacceptable”.

Mr Dauphin considers that the length of the recruitment process for Mr Letellier is reasonable. However, the expert adds a caveat.

“They should have been looking for a French speaker when Jean Charest left,” he says. Under the circumstances, this is acceptable. There’s someone else ready to sit. »

In a statement, CN CEO Shauneen Bruder called Mr. Letellier an “extraordinary addition” to the board team.

“His extensive business and strategy experience, sustainability leadership and entrepreneurial track record, combined with his financial acumen and commercial achievements, make him an excellent addition to the board,” she said.

The General Manager of IGOPP agrees on this point. At a time when ESG criteria (environment, social and governance) are taking up more and more space in the management of companies, the CN recruit brings “complementary skills”, says Mr. Dauphin.

According to CN’s recent proxy statement, only three members of the current board team have ESG expertise.

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