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March 15

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CN Railway and CP Railway both recently avoided labour stoppages through intense but sucessful negotiations with Unifor and Teamsters. When Jerry Dias was selected as the first president of Unifor, the amalgamated union (the former CAW and CEP), he brought with him a tough, no-nonsense approach – a tough negotiator. But Dias carries with him a strong sense of business acumen and thorough knowledge of the economic landscape. Quite simply he knows how far to push whether it’s planes, trains or automobiles – but is blissfully aware there is a breaking point. Not everyone has the ability to recognize that before going too far. When it comes to unions, whether you are pro or con, there is no denying this guy knows his stuff.

The decline of Conrad Black took another giant step downwards when the Ontario Securities Commission determined that Black and his former business colleague at Hollinger Inc. John Boultbee would be permanently banned from acting as a director or officer of any public company operating in the province. As a consolation prize, Black did manage to avoid a ban on trading securities. Given the general arrogance and pompous attitude so often displayed in public, it’s doubtful too many tears will be shed for Baron Black of Crossharbour.

Other than for Jim Treliving, I see little reason to continue watching Dragons’ Den any more. At one point it was one of the most interesting, entertaining shows on Canadian television. But with all the panelist defections over the past few years and now with the loss of both David “The Wealthy Barber” Chilton and Arlene Dickinson, the show is left with people I’ve never seen or heard of before. I just can’t be bothered warming up to an entirely new cast and it’s the personalities who really made that programme a success. Having had the opportunity to be on the set during filming and meeting the Dragons, when the likes of Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec were still there, I can say first-hand it was a great experience.

Did you know? J. Willard Marriott started his empire with an A&W root beer stand in Washington, D.C. in the late 1920s. He later opened a chain of restaurants called the Hot Shoppes before opening the first Marriott hotel in the late 1950s. Today, there are over 4000.

Angus Gillespie
@CanBizJournal

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