Corporate Governance Guidelines and Board Charter
Waste Connections, Inc.
Corporate Governance Guidelines and Board Charter
February 11, 2020
The Board of Directors (the “Board”) of Waste Connections, Inc., an Ontario corporation (the “Company”), acting on the recommendation of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, has adopted these Corporate Governance Guidelines and Board Charter to promote the effective functioning of the Board and its committees (the “Committees”), to promote the interests of the Company as a whole and to ensure a common set of expectations concerning how the Board, its Committees and management should perform their respective functions.
In this Corporate Governance Guidelines and Board Charter, “applicable securities laws” refer to: (a) the United States Securities Act of 1933, as amended, the United States Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and any rules or regulations thereunder; (b) any applicable state securities laws; (c) the Securities Act (Ontario) and the equivalent thereof in each province and territory of Canada in which the Company is a “reporting issuer” or the equivalent thereof, together with the regulations, rules and blanket orders of the securities commission or similar regulatory authority in each of such jurisdictions; and (d) the rules of the New York Stock Exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange, to the extent that any securities of the Company are listed on such exchange.
1. Role of the Board and Management. The Company’s business is conducted by its employees, managers and officers, under the direction of the Chief Executive Officer and the oversight of the Board, to enhance the long-term value of the Company for its shareholders. The Board is elected by the shareholders to oversee management and to act in the best interests of the Company as a whole. Both the Board and management recognize that the long-term interests of the Company and shareholders are advanced by responsibly addressing the concerns of other stakeholders and interested parties, including employees, recruits, customers, suppliers, communities in which the Company operates, government officials and the public at large.
2. Functions of the Board. The Board has four regularly scheduled meetings each year, at which it reviews and discusses reports by management on the Company’s performance, business and prospects, as well as immediate issues facing the Company, and reviews and approves, as applicable, the annual and interim financial statements of the Company.
3. Selection of Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. The Board shall select its Chairman and the Company’s Chief Executive Officer in any way it considers to be in the best interests of the Company.
When the Chairman is an affiliated director or otherwise not independent under applicable securities laws, a member of the Company’s management, or when the independent directors determine that it is in the best interests of the Company, the independent directors will appoint from among themselves a Lead Independent Director. The Lead Independent Director will: (a) preside at all meetings of the Board at which the Chairman is not present, (b) preside over each meeting of non-employee directors, (c) have the authority to call meetings of non-employee directors, (d) help facilitate communication between the Chairman and the non-employee directors, (e) advise with respect to the Board’s agenda, (f) ensure that the Board is able to function independently of management; (g) serve as the leader of the Board on matters of corporate governance; and (h) if requested by major shareholders, ensure his or her availability for direct communication. If the Chairman is an independent director, then the duties for the Lead Independent Director described above shall be part of the duties of the Chairman.
4. Board Committees. The Board has established the following standing Committees to assist it in discharging its responsibilities: (a) Audit; (b) Compensation; (c) Nominating and Corporate Governance; and (d) Executive. The current charters of the Audit, Compensation and Nominating and Corporate Governance Committees are published on the Company’s website and will be provided to shareholders on written request. Members of each of these Committees (including the Committee Chairs) are appointed by the Board and may be removed by the Board in its discretion. The Committee Chairs report the highlights of their meetings to the Board following each meeting of their respective Committees. The Committees may hold meetings in conjunction with the Board.
Each of the members of the Audit Committee, the Compensation Committee and the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee will be independent under applicable securities laws. The Company will afford access to the Company’s employees, professional advisers and other resources, if needed, to enable Committee members to carry out their responsibilities.
The Board may, from time to time, establish additional committees.
5. Selection of Directors. The Board’s Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee shall be responsible for identifying qualified individuals to become Board members and selecting or recommending to the Board director nominees for each meeting of the shareholders at which one or more directors will be elected and for vacancies the Board chooses to fill.
6. Qualifications of Directors. Directors must have the highest personal and professional ethics, integrity and values. They must be committed to representing the best interests of the Company. They must have an objective perspective, practical wisdom, mature judgment and expertise, skills and knowledge useful to the oversight of the Company’s business. The Company’s goal is a Board that represents diverse experiences at policy-making levels in business and other areas relevant to the Company’s activities, while encouraging a diversity of backgrounds, including with respect to gender, consistent with the Company’s Policy Regarding Diversity on the Board of Directors and in Senior Management Positions.
Directors should be committed to serving on the Board for an extended period. Directors should offer their resignation if there is any significant, detrimental change in their personal or professional circumstances, including a change in their principal job responsibilities.
Each director should be sufficiently familiar with the business of the Company to ensure active participation in the deliberations of the Board and each Committee on which the director serves. On request, management will make appropriate personnel available to answer any questions a director may have about any aspect of the Company’s business. All directors shall be free to contact the Chief Executive Officer at any time to discuss any aspect of the Company’s business, and shall have complete access to other employees of the Company.
The Company values the experience directors bring from other boards on which they serve and other activities in which they participate, but recognizes that these boards and activities may present demands on a director’s time and availability. Therefore, directors who also serve as chief executive officers or in equivalent positions at any company should not serve on more than two Boards of public companies in addition to the Company’s Board, and other directors should not serve on more than four other Boards of public companies in addition to the Company’s Board.
The Company does not believe that arbitrary term limits on director’s service are appropriate, nor does it believe that directors should expect to be re-nominated at the end of each term until they retire. The Board’s self-evaluation process described below is an important factor in determining a Board member’s tenure.
No director who is over the age of 75 at the expiration of his or her current term may be nominated to a new term. Notwithstanding the foregoing, as part of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee’s regular evaluation of the Company’s directors and the overall needs of the Board, the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee may determine that it would be in the best interests of the Company to ask a director to remain on the Board for an additional period of time beyond age 75, or to stand for re-election even if such director is over the age of 75. Such determination must be renewed annually.
7. Independence Standards. A majority of the Board must be independent, within the meaning of: (a) Section 1.4 of National Instrument 52-110 of the Canadian Securities Administrators; and (b) Section 303A.02 of the Listed Company Manual of the New York Stock Exchange, in each case as such rules may be amended or replaced. For a director to be considered independent, the Board must determine that the director has no material relationship with the Company, provided that the direct or indirect ownership of any amount of the Company's shares will not be deemed to constitute a material relationship.
The Board will review all relationships to assess whether any of them is a material relationship so as to impair that director’s independence.The Board will review annually whether its members satisfy applicable independence tests before any member stands for re-election to the Board.
The Company will not make any personal loans or extend credit to any director or officer, other than those expressly permitted under applicable laws. All such arrangements must be approved in advance and administered by the Compensation Committee. No independent director or his or her immediate family member may provide personal services to the Company for compensation, other than as permitted under applicable securities laws.
8. Independence of Committee Members. In addition to the general requirements for independent Board members described above, members of the Audit Committee must also satisfy the additional independence requirements of: (a) National Instrument 52-110 of the Canadian Securities Administrators; (b) the rules of the New York Stock Exchange; and (c) Rule 10A-3 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, which, among other things, prohibit a member of the Audit Committee (other than in his capacity as a member of the Audit Committee, the Board or any other committee of the Board) from receiving any compensatory fees from or being an affiliated person of the Company or any of its subsidiaries. The Board will also apply this additional requirement, as well as any additional requirements mandated by applicable securities laws, to members of the Compensation and Nominating and Corporate Governance Committees. Additionally, members of the Compensation Committee must qualify as “outside directors” under Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, and the regulations and interpretations promulgated thereunder.
9. Competitive Interlocks. In accordance with United States federal antitrust laws, no director may serve on the Board of any company that competes with the Company, if either company derives a statutorily specified amount of revenues from providing services that both companies offer in markets in which both companies are active. To facilitate compliance with these laws, all directors must (a) inform the Company of all companies that they serve as directors, (b) inform the Company before joining any other board and obtain the approval of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee before joining any other for-profit board and (c) carefully monitor the activities of companies in which they participate to anticipate interlocks.
10. Size of the Board. Subject to the articles of the Company, the Board determines the number of directors. The Board believes that, given the size of the Company, eight is an appropriate number of directors.
11. Director Responsibilities. Directors must perform the roles and functions described in these guidelines and the charters of all Committees on which they serve. They must devote sufficient time and resources to carry out their duties and responsibilities effectively. They must make every effort to attend each meeting of the Board and all Committees on which they serve, and they must review all materials distributed to them in advance of each such meeting. In discharging responsibilities as a director, a director is entitled to rely in good faith on reports or other information provided by the Company’s management, independent auditors, and other persons as to matters the director reasonably believes to be within such other person’s professional or expert competence and who has been selected with reasonable care by or on behalf of the Company. Attendance by telephone, electronic or other communication facilities as permit all persons participating in the meeting to communicate with each other simultaneously and instantaneously may be used to facilitate a director’s attendance. Directors must comply with all applicable laws, including the applicable securities laws and, with respect to their activities relating to the Company, the Business Corporations Act (Ontario) (the “OBCA").
12. Meetings of Non-Employee Directors; Presiding Director. At each regularly scheduled meeting of the Board, the non-employee directors shall also meet separately, without employees present. The Lead Independent Director will preside at such meetings. The non-employee directors may also meet without employees present at other times as determined by the Lead Independent Director. The non-employee directors include all directors who are not employees of the Company or any of its subsidiaries, whether or not they are “independent,” as defined in these Guidelines. If the Chairman is an independent director, then the duties for the Lead Independent Director described above shall be part of the duties of the Chairman.
13. Agendas. The agenda for each Board meeting shall be established by the Chairman in collaboration with the Chief Executive Officer, taking into account input and suggestions from other members of the Board and senior management. The agenda for each Committee shall be established by the Chair of each Committee, in consultation with appropriate members of the Committee, advisors and senior management.
Unless a Committee expressly determines otherwise, the agenda, materials and minutes for each Committee meeting shall be available to all directors, and all directors shall be free to attend any Committee meeting. All directors, whether or not members of the Committee, shall be free to make suggestions to a Committee Chair for additions to the agenda of the Chair’s Committee or to request that an item from a Committee agenda be considered by the Board.
14. Ethics and Conflicts of Interest. The Board expects the Company’s directors, officers and employees to act ethically at all times and to adhere to the Company’s Code of Conduct and Ethics. The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee will resolve all conflicts of interest involving any officer or director; however, if a conflict involves a member of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, and there are not at least two other members of that Committee who are not involved in the conflict, then the Board will resolve that conflict. Directors must promptly disclose actual or potential conflicts of interest to the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee and to the Board as required by the OBCA. Such disclosure must be made prior to any Board meeting at which transactions or issues relating to the actual or potential conflict will be addressed. If a significant conflict exists that cannot be resolved, the director must resign. All directors must recuse themselves from any discussion or decision affecting their personal, business or professional interests, or otherwise as required by the OBCA.
15. Compensation of Board. The Compensation Committee is responsible for recommending to the Board the compensation and benefits for non-employee directors. The Committee will be guided by three principles: (a) the compensation should fairly pay non-employee directors for the work required in light of the Company’s size and scope; (b) compensation should align the directors’ interests with the long-term best interests of the Company; and (c) the structure of the compensation should be simple, transparent and easy for shareholders to understand. At the end of each year, the Compensation Committee will review non-employee director compensation and benefits.
16. Share Ownership Guidelines. The Compensation Committee is responsible for recommending to the Board share ownership guidelines for non-employee directors, named executive officers and other corporate officers of the Company to further align management and shareholder interests and discourage inappropriate or excessive risk-taking.
17. Clawback Policy. The Compensation Committee is responsible for the adoption and oversight of the Company’s Compensation Recoupment Policy relating to the forfeiture or repayment of incentive compensation paid to a named executive officer or other corporate officer in the event of an accounting restatement. The Compensation Committee will continue to monitor the appropriateness of this policy in light of changes in applicable securities laws.
18. Anti-Hedging/Pledging Policy. The Board is responsible for oversight of the Company’s policy prohibiting executive officers and directors from engaging in transactions designed to hedge against the economic risks associated with an investment in common shares or pledging common shares as collateral.
19. Self-Evaluation. The Board and each Committee will perform an annual self-evaluation. Annually, the directors will be asked to provide their assessments of the effectiveness of the Board and the Committees on which they serve. Such assessments will address, at a minimum, the effectiveness and adequacy of meetings of the Board and its Committees, the adequacy and timeliness of information provided to the Board by the Company’s management, the diversity of experience of individual directors and the contributions of each director.
20. Succession Plan. The Board will approve and maintain a succession plan for the Chief Executive Officer and other senior management, based on recommendations from the Compensation Committee. Such plan will include policies and principles for selecting and evaluating a new Chief Executive Officer in the event of an emergency or retirement of the Chief Executive Officer.
21. Access to Independent Advisors. The Board and its Committees have the authority at any time to retain independent outside financial, legal or other advisors.
22. Director Orientation and Education. The General Counsel and the Chief Financial Officer will provide an orientation for new directors, and periodically provide materials or briefing sessions for all directors on subjects relevant to their discharge of their duties. Each new director, within six months of election to the Board, will spend a day at the Company’s corporate headquarters for a personal briefing by senior management about the director’s legal and ethical responsibilities; the Company’s strategic plans, principal operating risks and financial statements; the material factors that affect the Company’s performance; the operation, significance and effects of incentive compensation programs and related party transactions; and other key policies and practices.
23. Majority Voting Policy. Each director of the Company must be elected by a majority of the votes cast with respect to his or her election, other than at a meeting of shareholders at which the number of directors nominated for election is greater than the number of seats available on the Board (a “Contested Election”).
The forms of proxy circulated in connection with a meeting of the Company's shareholders that is not a Contested Election shall provide the Company's shareholders with the ability to vote in favour of, or to withhold from voting for, each director nominee. In the event one or more incumbent directors fails to receive the affirmative vote of a majority of the votes cast with respect to his or her election at a meeting of shareholders that is not a Contested Election (each, a “Subject Director”), the Subject Director must immediately tender his or her resignation to the Board. A “majority of the votes cast” means that the number of shares voted “for” a director's election exceeds 50% of the number of votes cast with respect to that director's election. Votes cast with respect to that director's election shall include votes to withhold authority, but shall exclude abstentions, broker non-votes, and failures to vote with respect to that director's election. In a Contested Election, a plurality vote standard will apply.
Following the receipt of a resignation from a Subject Director, either (i) the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee of the Board or (ii) if one or more of the members of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee is a Subject Director or the Board determines that any decision to be made with respect to a Subject Director should be made by a committee of the Board other than the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, a committee consisting solely of Independent Directors (as defined below) who are not Subject Directors (the committee described in clause (i) or (ii) of this sentence, the “Committee”), will make a determination as to whether to recommend that the Board accept or reject any resignation of a Subject Director. The Committee would be expected to recommend that the Board accept the resignation of a Subject Director absent exceptional circumstances. As used herein, the term “Independent Director” means a director who complies with the “independent director” requirements set forth in Section 7.
The Board will make a determination, having considered the recommendation of the Committee, as to whether to accept or reject any resignation of a Subject Director within ninety (90) days from the date of the relevant shareholders' meeting and shall notify the Subject Director of its decision. A Subject Director will not participate in any meeting of the Board, the Committee or any other committee of the Board at which the Subject Director's resignation is considered.
The Board shall accept the resignation of a Subject Director absent exceptional circumstances and the resignation shall be effective when accepted by the Board. The Company shall promptly issue a news release with the Board's decision, a copy of which must be provided to any exchange on which the Company's securities are listed and filed with the Canadian securities commission or similar regulatory authority in each province and territory of Canada in which the Company is a “reporting issuer” or the equivalent thereof and the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. If the Board determines not to accept the resignation of a Subject Director, the news release must fully state the reasons for the Board's decision.
In considering the resignation of a Subject Director, the Board may consider all factors it considers relevant, including (i) the reasons that it believes are the reasons a majority of the votes cast at the meeting were voted “against” the Subject Director’s election, (ii) whether the underlying cause or causes of the “against” votes are curable, (iii) the factors, if any, set forth in these Corporate Governance Guidelines and Board Charter or other policies that are to be considered by the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee in evaluating potential candidates for the Board as such criteria relate to each Subject Director, (iv) the length of service of each Subject Director, (v) each Subject Director’s contributions to the Company, (vi) whether acceptance of any resignation would lead to a “change of control” of the Company as determined pursuant to any Company financing or other material agreement, (vii) whether acceptance of any resignation would lead to a default under any material agreement to which the Company or any of its subsidiaries is a party or otherwise bound, or to the Company’s failure to comply with any applicable rule or regulation (including applicable securities laws), and (viii) whether acceptance of the resignation would cause the Company not to be in compliance with the requirements of the OBCA concerning the Company having a minimum number of directors who are Canadian residents.
In the event that any Subject Director does not tender his or her resignation in accordance with this Policy, he or she will not be re-nominated by the Board or the Company for re-election.