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Air Canada is heading for political turbulence as Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland signalled her displeasure over millions in bonuses to the airline’s executives as the company negotiated a federal bailout. The airline on Monday disclosed in its annual proxy circular to shareholders that it gave $10 million in bonuses to people the investor document called instrumental to the airline’s survival over the past year, as air travel plunged during the pandemic. In a lengthy comment Wednesday, Freeland said she was disappointed in how some businesses seem not to be behaving as responsible corporate citizens while receiving taxpayer-funded federal aid to survive the pandemic. As for the bonuses themselves, she called them inappropriate. In April, the airline and government agreed to a $5.9 billion loan package that includes money to help refund passenger tickets, but also capped executive compensation at $1 million until 12 months after the loan is fully repaid. The government also paid $500 million for a six per cent stake in the country’s biggest airline, which Freeland says was done to ensure taxpayers could benefit once Air Canada’s revenue rose as regular travel resumed.

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