MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (July, 2021)

Summer begins with a busy news week on the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, alongside Jennifer Hall and Mark Warner.  Here’s an overview of the topics we discussed:

As we weather the Summer heat, watch wildfires, and observe changing ocean levels, the topic of climate has become a daily consideration.  Advancing the target for all light-duty vehicles sold in Canada to be electric, from 2040 to 2035, raises issues beyond that of consumers.  Electric vehicles are part of a larger infrastructure, a system that includes manufacturing, charging, and maintenance, as well as the need to create a sustainable industry.  Integral to this is the ability to design vehicles that meet consumer needs well into the future; this includes all of the necessary parts, inputs, and expertise to make planning a reality.  Anyone who has an implementation background will recognize that this is not easy and requires a significant amount of effort and ability in order to achieve.  In the case of electric vehicles, the question isn’t “should we?”, but rather, “how?”.  This is a big, ongoing question that needs to be resolved in a robust and comprehensive manner.

As we greet Summer, 2021, everyone is understandably tired of living in a world of COVID19; but, here we are.  Vaccination has certainly helped to set the stage for communities opening up and returning to some form of normal, but the reality is, we are not there yet.  At the time of this writing, Canadian vaccination levels are approximately 70% (one dose) and 30% (two doses), raising the question: where is everyone?  In the US, although the double dose rate is higher (approximately 47%), it is concerning that only approximately 55% of Americans have received a single dose of a COVID19 vaccine.  It has been widely reported in the US that science and medical professionals are concerned about the percentage of Americans that will be vaccinated at all, given the relatively high degree of those who are either hesitant or resistant, making the question of what the “ceiling” could be of relevance.  Given that Canadians have worked hard to combat COVID19, for the most part, any considerations around opening the border should ensure that vaccination records of entrants can be reliably tracked; the health of our communities and economy are dependent on these types of reasonable safeguards.

And, finally, as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos moves to the Executive Chair role and other ventures, including Space exploration through Blue Origin, living in times of COVID19 is a reminder of the value and importance of online shopping and logistics.  In contrast to the delivery trucks of days gone by, the use of technology to connect with consumers is an important difference, although there is still work to do in perfecting the model.  An important component is the role of workers in this new economy, many of which lack employment security and pursue various jobs to make ends meet.  There has always been an understandable income gap between business leaders and staff members, however, the times we are living in have pushed this to extremes, with the impacts being increasingly in full view.  Further, it is disappointing that diversity was not brought to the CEO role going forward; a missed opportunity to send an impactful message to both customers and staff members.  We are at the point where important questions should be asked about the world that we want to live in, with the experience of COVID19, perhaps, contributing to the prominence of this consideration.

Thank you for watching, and see you again soon, CBC!

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (May, 2021)

Lots to talk about on the May Day version of the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, alongside Mark Warner and John Northcott; here’s an overview of our chat:

  • The Sick Leave Debate, as the pandemic has been part of our lives for over a year, the federal and provincial governments are still wrestling with the issue of sick leave.  Where does this leave the workforce?
  • Rising Capital Gains Tax in the US, as the Biden Administration looks for ways to pay for its initiatives, could a proposed significant capital gains tax increase impact Canadian companies?
  • LL Bean Ventures into the Canadian Outdoors, with plans to open additional stores, what might be behind this decision?

It’s disappointing that the issue of sick leave is so far from resolution, 14 months into the pandemic.  This issue should be considered in the context of the range of work structures within the modern Canadian economy, ranging from a relatively small segment that have comprehensive benefits coverage (such as the public sector), to those in the entrepreneur or contract worker segment, who have little to no coverage and are far from job security.  Bottom line: COVID19 is a contagious disease that can only be stopped with the cooperation of everyone involved, and when people are sick, they should not be going to work.  Economic realities are something that need to be fully appreciated, in that many people simply cannot afford to opt out of the work day without compensation; this is why a well designed sick leave program is so important, especially, in these challenging times.  Everyone needs to get together on this issue in order to arrive at a feasible solution, including workers, employers, provincial, and federal governments.

Those who are familiar with the capital markets pertaining to startup and early stage companies in Canada will recognize that it is a challenge to find funding to launch and grow a business.  Although Canada has made strides in the volume of available capital, it has historically been behind the levels of other countries.  It is important to recognize that capital at the early stages carries a higher level of risk, but is integral to creating jobs, economic growth, and innovation in Canada.  This is why the potential for a significant increase in US capital gains tax rate is so concerning, in that it could impact the level of investment activity, including in Canadian companies.  It is no secret that there is inequity in the tax system and that ultra-high net worth individuals likely do not pay their fair share, relatively speaking (a complex issue to be resolved). As this proposed capital gains tax increase is a recent development, it will be important to monitor how this situation develops.

And, finally, US retailer LL Bean has proven to be popular in Canada, in a year when being an outsider was on the menu for many.  Plans to open an additional four stores runs against so many of the online retail stories we have discussed, although LL Bean has been well established in this area and catalogue sales for years (the catalogue still comes to my mailbox, by the way).  Being outside is, perhaps, one of the few ways we have to get together in times of COVID19, and it will be interesting to see if this trend continues into the future.  In the meantime, LL Bean footwear has been a favourite of mine for years; I wear them every day.  Here’s a couple of styles from my collection, including the classic Bean Boot and an ankle version in a “short run” cherry red colour (similar to a limited edition, where products are featured in different colours in small quantity).  I also have a couple of other pairs that are too dusty to be photographed at the moment!


Thanks for watching, and see you again soon.  In the meantime, Spring is here, get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine!

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (April, 2021)

Always grateful to get to “talk on TV”; this time, alongside Mark Warner and John Northcott for the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel.  In a very busy news week, here’s an overview of the topics we discussed (along a planes, trains, and automobiles theme):


The Air Canada/Air Transat potential merger has been in the works for some time, well in advance of the days of COVID19.  With European regulators expressing competition concerns that the parties were unable to address, the deal was called off late this week, leaving Air Canada and Air Transat to consider their own business issues in what is still very much a COVID19 world.  In Canada, the limited number of air travel providers and relative lack of competitiveness have been longstanding concerns for consumers, particularly on some routes.  It will be interesting to see how Air Transat, in particular, moves forward, perhaps, creating an opportunity to bring some new parties into the industry.  Related to this point, although vaccines are now very much a part of the recovery story, it is difficult to determine when the travel industry will begin to see some meaningful gains and stability.

Those who work in the financial services area understand the challenges of the regulatory aspect of the industry, albeit necessary, in terms of standards, risk management, and consumer protection.  Efforts to create a national capital markets regulator in Canada have long been discussed, and with the latest initiative announcing an effective halt, it is difficult to know if and when this objective will be achieved.  Failure to have a national regulator not only leaves Canada out of step with the rest of the G7 countries, it keeps what is already a challenging area for funds and companies fragmented for the foreseeable future.

With a global pandemic that has left many companies decimated and people out of work, President Biden’s announcement of “a once-in-a-generation investment in America, unlike anything we’ve seen or done since we built the interstate highway system and the space race decades ago” could be just what is needed.  Targeted at a broad range of infrastructure projects, as well as green energy, internet, and housing, the plan could create millions of jobs, use an abundance of supplies, and bring current a number of areas that tend to get delayed, in light of funding shortfalls and other priorities.  Despite Buy America provisions, large countries that embark on large projects tend to need more than they alone can produce, something that represents an opportunity for Canada.  In the meantime, there are a number of steps that need to evolve, including review and passage of the legislation through Congress; not a given, in times of narrow Democrat majorities.

And, finally, Volkswagen learned the hard way that April Fool’s jokes aren’t always funny, with a less than ideal execution of its announcement to change the name of its American business unit to Voltswagen.  The bigger miss is the Voltswagen marketing campaign that could have been; I can see it all in my head.

Thanks for watching and see you again soon, CBC!

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (February, 2021)

Always great to join the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel to discuss “the week that was”, alongside Mark Warner and John Northcott.

Here’s an overview of the topics we discussed.

As Canada is in the midst of its coldest months and a number of provinces have put enhanced COVID19 restrictions in place, is it really that surprising that a significant number of jobs continue to be lost?  With job losses in January reaching 213,000, industries that have been impacted include hospitality, retail, tourism, and other services.  Although it is a reasonable expectation that the recovery from COVID19 will not be a straight line, what also comes to mind is how many companies might have simply closed up shop after Christmas or at the end of 2020, resulting in permanent job losses.  This situation relates to a range of factors, including the abundance of small businesses that have delayed the succession process, companies that are no longer competitive, and those who have simply had enough, in terms of trying to operate in a COVID19 world.  Keep in mind, these will be permanent job losses, and consider this important question: what does it take to “grow” a job?  The simple answer is a lot of time, effort, and money; ask anyone who has built a business from scratch, starting with their own job.

Anyone who has been following the GameStop trading saga should keep some basic lessons in mind: speculative trading is risky and can result in significant losses, as was seen this week.  For those who only see the upside, remember that for many investors, it is something that occurs only in theory, as timing the market is next to impossible (don’t confuse hindsight with real time).  Perhaps, more importantly, is the need for regulators to catch up to scenarios where social media plays such a significant role, given that financial services is such a highly regulated industry (ask anyone who has ever worked in it, as the penalties can be significant).

Developing content is something that takes far more time, effort, and expertise than most would appreciate (for example, ever written a book?), and one of the biggest venues is the credible news media.  Australia plans to take a bold step in requiring companies such as Google and Facebook to pay local media companies for content, given the significant imbalance between these two sectors.  While these companies have claimed this arrangement is unworkable, the unimpacted Microsoft has indicated support for the plan, as well as a willingness to step up its Bing search capability, in the event that Google follows through with a reduced presence in the area.  A bit of the clash of the titans, perhaps, but it will be interesting to see where other countries go with this train of thought.

And, finally, as Jeff Bezos plans to step down from the CEO role, it is disappointing to see Amazon miss an opportunity to bring diversity to this position, particularly from a gender perspective.  The vast majority of large tech companies are led by men, representing significant wealth at both a corporate and leadership level.  There are qualified women to lead companies, including at a CEO and Board Chair level, and in 2021, we should not be having this same conversation over and over again, in terms of how underrepresented female leadership is.  Customers and employees are watching, and a lack of diversity is noticed more than many would expect; obvious oversights have long memories.

Thank you for watching, and see you again soon, CBC!


MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (January, 2021)

Another busy news week and a historic political week ahead make it a great time to be on the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, alongside Elmer Kim and John Northcott.

Here’s an overview of the topics we discussed:

  • Airline job and service cuts.  As the days of COVID19 march on, Canada’s airlines continue to struggle, with unprecedented declines in demand.  What do the latest service and job cuts mean for the airline industry and when might recovery begin?
  • Office space vacancies reach record highs.  The pandemic has changed how many companies operate, leaving their office space needs in question.  What can we expect to happen in the days ahead, in terms of office vacancies?
  • Biden stimulus plan announced As Inauguration Day will take place in the week ahead, what could the Biden stimulus plan mean for those in the US, as well as Canadians?

In the early days of the pandemic, Canadian airlines saw demand for their services decline in excess of 95%, and the ongoing strategies to combat COVID19 have meant little improvement for the travel industry.  We have seen numerous stories about staff cuts and flight decreases over the past several months, with the latest impacting more small centres.  Given that Canada is a geographically large country, air travel is essential, while at the same time, businesses must make decisions that are in the best interest of the sustainability of the company.  We haven’t seen as much collaboration between government support initiatives and the airlines as would be ideal, recognizing that both parties have to “give a little” in order to get to a solution.  Top of mind for many Canadians is the ongoing challenge of receiving refunds for flights that were cancelled due to the pandemic, as well as the relative fairness of potential funders wanting to understand how support would be used, in advance of providing it.  With a traditional high traffic travel season upon us, it will be interesting to see how this situation unfolds.

The expectation of increased office vacancy rates is another topic that we have followed on the Business Panel over the past year.  COVID19 has changed the manner in which many Canadians work, with a significant increase in remote arrangements.  As businesses consider their need for office space going forward, the outcome will have a lot to do with the type of company at hand and the competitive landscape within the sector in which it operates.  Remember that office space represents “overhead” and can be costly, creating a situation where some businesses might not be as competitively priced as those who have decided to continue their operations on primarily a remote basis.  Landlords are on the other side of the equation, and could face an abundance of empty office space with a low potential to find new tenants.  Of interest, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo raised this issue in his State of the State address, with the objective of introducing legislation to convert office and commercial space into housing.  As urban centres may be poised for their next evolution, governments should take notice and act proactively.

As Inauguration Day nears, President Elect Joe Biden announced his administration’s first stimulus plan, covering a wide range of areas in need of support, including financial assistance, protection from eviction, food security, childcare, tax relief, small businesses, healthcare, COVID19 vaccination and testing, and a $15 per hour minimum wage.  It is a tall order to provide help where little has been received for months, while COVID19 rates have been devastating across the US.  Some might say that this $2 trillion stimulus plan is too costly, however, the past number of months and concerning events of January 6, 2021 make it clear that the US has a choice to make.  In an economy that has left many behind, arising from a complex mix of technology, education, and business evolution factors, as well as a significant wealth gap, something has to change.  It will be interesting to see what 2021 will bring, in terms of much needed recovery and hope.

And finally, here’s a look at the first time I “met” Joe Biden.  Here he is, walking with his family on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009; Vice President Biden.  This photo is from a series that I captured from my vantage point on the Parade Route, witnessing history pass right in front of me.  The Bidens were excited, animated, as they walked, and I remember this day very well (including conducting a live interview with CBC Radio and, later, a video segment for TV from the National Press Club).  It’s hard not to recognize the sheer privilege of witnessing history first-hand, something that might just be one of the most important things that we can do in life: actively observe what we see, learn, remember, and pass our knowledge to those that follow.  We can all play a role in documenting our time here.

Thanks for watching, and see you again soon, CBC!

IMG_1193 small

MEDIA: 2020 Delivers Canada Post a New Business Model (CBC News)

COVID19 has brought interesting times to many companies and organizations, including Canada Post.  It was not that long ago when people might have viewed this longstanding organization as having a waning future, as society became increasingly mobile and digital in nature; then, 2020 came along.

With Canadians confined to their homes on an ongoing basis, the need to procure goods was, and continues to be, of heightened interest, while efficient movement of money and information has also been in need.  This situation has presented both opportunities and challenges for Canada Post, a topic I recently discussed with CBC News.  This story is of significant interest, as the Holiday Season approaches, appearing in print and also on CBC Cross Canada Syndicated Audio (great to chat with radio in major markets, from coast to coast to coast!).

There is much that can be said about business model evolution.  One of the interesting things about this particular example is the notion of “everything old being new again”.  Some viewers will remember the old days of home delivery, be it milk, department store trucks, or other household items being sold door-to-door (yes, people actually earned a living this way).  We waited by the mailbox for important letters, cards, and parcels; perhaps, if we were lucky, there was a cheque in the mail.  Having a family member that worked at the downtown Eaton’s store meant that the delivery man was at the door, often.  Why was this business model so popular at the time?

As recently as the 1970’s, many Canadians had limited mobility; think about the relative norms of women taking time off from the workforce to raise children and families having one vehicle, at most.  This created a need for products and essential goods to be brought to the doorstep.  Studies have shown that women have significant purchasing power, in terms of shopping decisions made by households, further supporting this business model of the past.

Increased mobility brought progress, where the 1980’s, 1990’s, and 2000’s meant that a lot of time was spent out and about.  This new freedom included Canadians spending a significant amount of time in shopping malls and restaurants, as well as at events and attractions.  As 2010 and beyond arrived, it is interesting to see how much this trend has changed.

In short: technology has provided a different type of mobility, one that we can hold in our hand.  Be it by way of a smartphone or tablet, Canadians can order just about any type of item for delivery, as well as transmit information and money.  Many businesses have capitalized on this trend, including major courier companies and financial institutions, as well as relative newcomers, such as Amazon and food delivery upstarts; this has also changed how businesses, in general, operate.  The masses of envelopes that once included letters and payments can now be sent electronically, representing a decrease in traditional mail, while parcel traffic has increased (at the time of this writing, thousands of parcels are stuck across Canada, as a result of volume increases and COVID19 protocols, including one of mine).

What this means for Canada Post’s business model is actually not that different from the case of any business: know where the company can successfully compete and have the pieces in place to do it well.  So, while traditional letter mail will continue to decline, there is an ongoing need to get goods to Canadians.  Integral to doing so on a competitive basis are the logistics infrastructure and capability, within acceptable cost parameters.  This includes continuing to invest in technology, for both Canada Post staff members and customers.

This brings the story full circle, where getting goods to Canadians (rather than going out to get them) is the priority.  The reason, this time, is not due to a lack of mobility, but rather, it is a function of how mobility has changed (it is now digital, not physical), as well as the time constraints that have become a way of life for many.  Think about this the next time a purchase is being contemplated, and ask: what is driving this decision?

Thank you for including me in your stories, CBC, and best of the Holiday Season, everyone!

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (December, 2020)

It’s a great day to be on the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, especially when you get to talk about the business of Space!

Alongside Mark Warner and John Northcott, here’s an overview of what we discussed:

As the end of the Fall nears and Winter is upon us, it’s no secret that Canada still has difficult days ahead, in terms of COVID19.  With the announcement of a number vaccines and as planning for distribution unfolds, many Canadian businesses are still struggling, especially those that are classified as small.  The CEBA program thus far has allowed businesses to obtain a $40,000 loan (of which $10,000 is eligible to be forgiven) and the announcement this week provides an additional $20,000 that can be obtained, 50% of which is eligible to be forgiven.  These loans can be used to fund certain business expenses, and to date, almost 800,000 businesses have been approved for a total loan value of $32 billion.  These loans can be the difference between companies surviving and not and are important for Canada’s economy; just think about all of the jobs that are associated with 800,000 companies.

Speaking of funding, Canada is experiencing a savings boom, with $170 billion in excess funds on deposit.  What is important to remember here is that the profile of Canadians underlying this statistic is varied, as are the reasons for the money.  High income Canadians who haven’t travelled or made major purchases represent one group; another is the urban employee who hasn’t incurred the expenses associated with commuting to work; as is the front line, essential worker who hasn’t had time to shop.  There are also small businesses that have accessed loan programs, such as CEBA, on a “just in case basis”, which adds to their bank account balance.

There is a forgotten group, however, that likely does not have a large bank account, due to reduced hours or somewhat lower revenue levels, with limited options for support, or perhaps, who are simply doing what they can to earn a living.  The point: the profiles of individuals and families underlying this statistic are not the same, and help is still needed.  COVID19 has been a very difficult period for many, something that is evident in what can be described as a “quietness” among people; on email and social interactions, for example.  It is evident that people have had a lot going on in their lives, on a work, personal, and family level; it is important to keep this in mind.

On another topic, those in the business world who have worked at senior levels understand first-hand how difficult it can be for women and minorities to reach the executive and governance office.  The NASDAQ has taken steps to mandate at least some diversity on the Boards of listed companies, to address a wrong that should have been corrected long ago.  Bottom line, most of these companies, and many others, have had decades to satisfactorily address this area and have not, despite the fact that, gender diversity, for example, has been proven to yield better performance.  This is a story that I will be watching closely, along with similar recommendations for TSX companies.

And finally, what’s more fun than Space?  As China lands a lunar probe on the Moon, it is a reminder that humans are explorers at heart.  As technological advancements in areas such as the Spacex program, research, communications, and life in Space continue, it is exciting to see significant investment being made to generate even more of an impact.  An interesting project is Starlink, poised to bring highspeed internet service to remote locations, including in Canada.  Conversely, large telecommunications companies, for the most part, have been less than ideal in addressing what has become essential infrastructure.

At any rate, it would be a lot of fun to do some work with companies that are in the business of space (feel free to be in touch with opportunities!).  In the meantime, there’s always memories of cars in space.

Thanks for watching, everyone!


MEDIA: Are COVID19 Rent Subsidy Caps Unfair? (Global National News)

Pleased to chat with Global National News about the latest coronavirus rent assistance program, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), and challenges around the caps, in terms of the maximum amount that a business can receive.  In particular, there has been criticism of the $300,000 cap for businesses and other eligible organizations with more than one location.

This is a difficult issue, as it might seem to some as being unfair for larger companies; perhaps, analogous to “penalizing success”.  The reality is that COVID19 has been difficult for everyone, including smaller businesses with limited resources.  There are at least three sides to this challenging issue.

Larger businesses with multiple locations certainly feel the stress of steering a larger ship, with many employees and financial obligations, such as rent.  With more jobs at stake, it is understandable that not being able to make ends meet could have an adverse employment impact on a greater number of people.  The other side of this situation is that larger companies tend to have access to a wider range of financial resources, including established cash reserves, existing financial partners, and, perhaps, potential investors.  There are also other programs available, including those that support wages.

Smaller, standalone businesses that collectively represent the backbone of the Canadian economy can find themselves with fewer resources in financially challenging times, and attracting support from financial institutions is not easy (many, if not most, small business owners know just how difficult this is).  This category of businesses also knows what it is like to be overlooked, as the early days of COVID19 support programs left out various types of small operators (much of which has since been rectified).

The third side of this situation is the taxpayer (in this case, represented by government).  COVID19 has been extremely challenging for so many, be it on an individual, family, employee, business, or wellness level.  It is not feasible to simply open public funding in an unlimited manner; rather, balance is required.  With the objective of keeping as many businesses as possible on some form of “life support” as the pandemic unfolds and begins to move into a more hopeful phase in early to mid-2021 (fingers crossed), balance is important, in order to get to the other side.

The other thing that many companies with multiple locations will be considering is just how many are needed going forward.  COVID19 has changed a lot of behaviors, routines, and workplaces.  Although the situation will not be the same for everyone or every community, locations that built their business based on office traffic or proximity to large workspaces might have to rethink the way forward.  This is an area that requires thoughtful analysis, to make tough decisions and understand the impact on the road ahead.

Thank you for including me in your TV and print stories, Global National News!

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (November, 2020)

What a historic day to join the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, within a mere hour of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris being projected to win the Presidency and Vice Presidency of the United States.  As someone who has closely followed US politics for decades, it’s a pleasure to have this opportunity.

Our discussion, including Elmer Kim, Mark Warner, and John Northcott, focused on what had become Election Week in the US, with a handful of remaining states continuing to count the final ballots to determine who would win the Presidency.  With all eyes on Pennsylvania, it proved to be the defining factor, at 11:24 AM ET, on November 7, 2020.

What could a Biden Administration mean to Canadian companies?  With the US as our largest trading partner by far, Canada has faced uncertainty over the last four years, from an administration that imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum imports, bluster around the negotiation of NAFTA 2.0 (both have been Business Panel topics), as well as limited attention overall, focusing instead on countries outside of traditional US allies.  The US response to COVID19 has been devastating, with the highest number of cases and deaths globally, resulting in significant job losses, companies closing, and many households in peril.  What could the future look like?

Once the proverbial dust settles in areas such as election related legal disputes and the transition of power (which might not be particularly easy, depending on whether the current administration decides to continue to fight or, instead, brush off the White House as not being particularly important and move on to something else), it’s a reasonable expectation that a Biden Administration would quickly move to combat and manage the coronavirus in a manner that has not been seen in the US thus far, as well as reconnect with traditional allies who have been of limited focus over the last four years.  Joe Biden is well suited to this type of conversation, recalling childhood advice to “keep the faith”, but to also spread it around.

Canada and its business community should expect to see a better level of stability with its neighbour and a more collaborative, productive relationship.  It’s difficult to predict the impact on the longstanding Keystone XL pipeline, however, politicians have a way of keeping their options open, especially when times are tough.  Infrastructure and similar projects have the potential to create a significant number of jobs, which is especially relevant, given the massive number of job losses in 2020 due to COVID19.  Also, expect an increased focus on “kitchen table” issues, including employment and wages, as we know that these are areas that are very close to Joe Biden’s heart, as the stories of job losses in his own family have been told many times.

It has been said that changes in leadership have the potential to bring a level of uncertainty that is counterproductive and risky.  In this case, the circumstances may be different, as what has been a tumultuous last four years fades into the past; but, we are not quite there yet.  The US remains as a country that is highly divided, bringing to mind an important reality that experienced business leaders know: deals often get done “in the middle”, when parties are able to arrive at solutions that allow both sides to win.  In the absence of the necessary skills and experience to arrive at this point, little is achieved, with potential and lost opportunity being left on the table.  Think about the practical implications of what is lost in this type of situation, including in terms of new paths forward and dollars and cents.  In the meantime, all eyes will be on what will unfold up until Inauguration Day in January.

Finally, in advance of Remembrance Day on November 11th, we honour the service and sacrifice of those who have given so much, allowing us to be True North, Strong and Free, every single day.  We will remember them.


MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (October 24, 2020)

Pleased to be joining the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel from my home studio, alongside Sherena Hussain, Dennis Mitchell, and Natasha Fatah, talking airline refund spats, small business week, and the woes of another Canadian retailer, Le Chateau.

Many Canadians have been waiting for months to receive refunds for flights they had booked and subsequently cancelled by the airline due to COVID19.  Westjet recently announced its decision to issue refunds for flights it had cancelled, drawing attention from its rival, Air Canada.  Without going into the details around how the refund process will work, it seems to me that the focus should be on the customers who have been out of pocket what could be a significant amount of money for months.  It’s true that the airline and travel industries have been met with massive declines in business; a cause for concern in terms of future viability.  Regardless, it doesn’t seem right that customers be the ones to effectively finance this problem by not receiving a refund for something that they could not ultimately realize, through no fault of their own.

Small Business Week is generally a good time to reflect on the importance of the backbone of the Canadian economy; doing so has taken a different slant in 2020.  Small businesses have had to work extra hard to combat the impact of COVID19, be it in terms of financial challenges, keeping staff and customers safe, and finding new ways to deliver products and services.  Times of challenge can bring opportunity, such as better utilization of technology, an improved online presence, and the potential to access new markets.  Critical to this is the role of qualified advisors, who bring valuable perspective and an objective viewpoint, to help business leaders avoid pitfalls that they might not recognize until it’s too late.  Remember that business leaders have a depth of knowledge, as experts of their own companies, while advisors bring a breadth of knowledge, the experience of many situations; these perspectives are related, but they are not the same.

And finally, this week saw the demise of another Canadian retailer; this time, Le Chateau.  Seeking creditor protection and advisory assistance, we will have to stay tuned to see if this brand will find a way to continue into the future in some manner.  Regardless, I remember the years when Le Chateau was a “go to” stop on any trip to the mall, with lots of interest in the party and event section; another reminder of how much COVID19 has changed our lives.  The reality is, we don’t go very far these days, do we?  This makes life a challenge for retailers, airlines, travel, and hospitality companies; at least we have technology to stay connected.

Thanks for watching and for reaching out with your comments on these stories; it is a privilege to bring the business news to you.  See you again soon.