News in Review

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Canada’s favourite season returns

Roll Up the Rim is back! Tim Hortons’ annual coffee contest has officially started, with more than 31-million prizes. Canada’s most popular annual contest—Roll Up the Rim to Win—returns for its 24th year with more great prizes than ever.

Customers who purchase a medium, large or extra large hot beverage have a chance to win a grand prize: one of 40 Toyota 2010 RAV4s. Lucky rim rollers also have a chance at 100 $10,000 cash prizes, 1,000 Toshiba Netbooks, 25,000 $100 Tim Cards and more than 31-million free coffee, donut, muffin and cookie prizes. Chances of winning are one in nine.

Tim Hortons has also created a special edition of Roll Up the Rim to Win for military personnel serving at Kandahar Air Field (KAF) in Afghanistan. Prizes for the Kandahar edition include five cash prizes of $1,000, 100 Toshiba Netbooks, 1000 special edition Tim Hortons Kandahar hats and more than 10,000 food prizes. Roll Up the Rim to Win at KAF begins later in March.

Nortel sells last unit, VoIP to Genband

Once touted North America’s leading parts maker for telecommunications equipment, Nortel is on its way out. In early March, Nortel Networks Corp. won its bankruptcy court case to sell its last unit—an Internet phone business (Voice over Internet Protocol) and global application solutions—for US$282 million to Genband Inc. Both Nortel and Genband, based in Plano, Texas, confirmed that the deal was a go, cleared in the U.S. and Canadian courts.

Based in Toronto, Ontario, Nortel was before a panel of judges who were overseeing the company’s liquidation and approval process. Nortel has been selling its operations since filing for creditor protection in January. The deal was originally announced December 23.

Arctic pipeline delayed

Imperial Oil announced earlier this month it plans to delay committing to the Mackenzie natural gas pipeline for another two years, further jeopardizing the controversial and costly project, according to analysts. A decision on whether to go ahead with the massive project will be given by late 2013, with the pipeline starting operations five years later—at the earliest, the corporation said.

In a letter filed to the National Energy Board, Imperial Oil blamed red tape and having to rebuild a project team frozen since 2006 for the set back. “This revised startup timing reflects regulatory delays, lack of a fiscal agreement, project restaffing requirements and seasonal constraints,” Imperial said in the letter.

“Timely actions by all parties, including the proponents, governments and regulators, will be essential to achieve this schedule.”

CRTC grants broadcasters right to charge fees

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) decided last month that major broadcasters could charge cable, satellite and telephone companies for the signals. Analysts questioned, however, how the CRTC would be able to do so.

According to CRTC reports released last month, private TV broadcasters reported losses (before interest and taxes) of $116.4 million in 2009, which followed the massive 93 per cent drop in profits to $8 million during 2008.

While private Canadian broadcasters celebrated its victory in negotiating fair market value for their over-the-air signals from other companies, the public broadcaster was excluded from this ruling. CBC executives were appalled, saying it was “the end of public broadcasting in Canada.”

CRTC chair Konrad von Finckenstein countered, saying the CBC is “an integral part of Canadian broadcasting system” and would be examined separately. The new fee-for-signal battle cannot apply to the public broadcaster.

CN Tower shoots down $78M ‘bid’ for naming rights

A private bidder caused a media spectacle when putting forward a ‘bid’ to rename Toronto’s landmark. A used car and boat website claimed it was prepared to pay $78 million for the naming right to the CN Tower.

 In a press release, Vehicle Gateway said it would formally submit a bid to the tower’s owner, Canada Lands Corp within the weeks’ end. But apparently, it is just a lie. Canada Lands Corp. vice-president Gordon McIvor said he had never heard of “VG” prior to the news and the company “received no bid.” “We haven’t even had a conversation with them other than our phoning them to ask was they’re doing.”

Although Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he would consider selling real estate and other Crown assets in order to balance the federal budget, and has jokingly said he would sell the CN Tower.

Lights go out for Earth Hour

On March 27, businesses, governments and individuals joined millions of people around the world in support of Earth Day by turning off their lights for one hour.

As part of the popular annual campaign to raise awareness about climate change, corporations, small businesses, families and governments took part in the one-hour activity. Businesses who took part include its host, World Wildlife Fund, which offered dinner in the dark, as well as Toronto Port Authority, Molson Coors and IESO.  Did your business participate? Tell us about it!

U.S. approves healthcare overhaul

The House of Representatives gave final approval to a sweeping healthcare overhaul, expanding insurance coverage to nearly all Americans and handing President Barack Obama a landmark victory.

On a late-night 219-212 vote, House Democrats approved the most dramatic health policy changes in 40 years and, on March 23 Obama signed it into law.
The overhaul extends health coverage to 32 million Americans. It expands the government health plan for the poor, and bars insurance practices, such as refusing to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions, and require insurers to cover children up until 25 years old under their parents’ health plan.

The vote capped a year-long political battle with Republicans that consumed the U.S. Congress and dented Obama’s approval ratings, and fulfilled a goal that had eluded many presidents for a century—most recently Democrat Bill Clinton in 1994.

Wind mobile spreads across Canada

Hopping from one city to the next, WIND Mobile just launched its service in Ottawa—the fourth city in the ambitious wireless company’s plan for national coverage. With launched services in Toronto, Calgary and, Edmonton just last month, the company’s blog said a Vancouver launch is “getting closer every day.”

The start-up mobile carrier company had a shaky start with Canada’s broadcast regulator CRTC rejecting its proposal due to concerns about its main financial backer, Egypt’s Orascom. The regulator claimed it had too much of an influence over the company and did not qualify Canadian ownership rules. However, the federal government stepped in to overrule the decision, allowing the company to move forward with its launch campaign. Despite some customer complaints about inconsistent network service, Wind Power has pushed forward with its aggressive marketing campaign.

The startup mobile carrier is also actively pursuing a partnership with Google Inc. The firm has contacted the search engine giant about getting the Nexus One smartphone into Canada.

WIND is the only carrier in the Canadian market whose network operates on the AWS spectrum band—a huge advantage for the company. In the U.S., Google partnered T-Mobile USA to launch Nexus One, who is also on the AWS band.

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