June 16, 2009

Canadian parliament summons Nortel

A Canadian parliamentary committee in Ottawa wants to hear from the chief of Nortel Networks why executives got bonuses during bankruptcy protection.

Earlier this week, the Finance Committee requested Chief Executive Officer Mike Zafirovski to explain why the millions of dollars in bonuses were paid as employees' and pensioners' benefits were delayed, the Canwest News Service reported.

The Toronto company declined, saying it would be inappropriate while the communications giant is before bankruptcy courts in the province of Ontario and the United States.

However, Tuesday morning, the committee voted that it has supremacy, and ordered Zafirovski to appear Thursday, the report said.

Nortel has laid off some 5,000 people since November, although no severance or benefit extensions have been granted, the report said.

The fact that there are legal proceedings involving its insolvency has nothing to do with their inability to testify, said committee member Thomas Mulcair of the socialist New Democratic Party. It was a transparent attempt to avoid having to avoid explaining why they voted ... millions of dollars in bonuses for themselves when people were being denied their severance.

Nortel had no immediate comment, Canwest said.