July 13

Telecom Wars: starring Bell, TELUS and Rogers, costarring WIND Mobile, Mobilicity and Public Mobile, although the latter two have largely dropped out of this ongoing real-life drama due to a shortage in funds to remain in the game. It’s a revolving door of little guys being killed off or bought out. But the Big 3 and the
current newbies battled ferociously on centre stage at the recent Canadian Telecom Summit on a number of wireless issues and we were there to be a part of it all. The Big 3 are far better capitalized and can offer toprate services, but there’s also a perceived smug arrogance that leaves one wishing a legitimate fourth major player could come in to stir the pot. Could the next major starring role be backed by Verizon Wireless? If so the sequel will be intriguing.

There have been times when a number of us have endured rotten personal experiences in dealing with a bank. What about small business? How do our vaunted financial institutions stack up against one another in aiding the core engine that drives our national economy? Keep in mind SMEs account for nearly six out of every 10 jobs. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is a foremost authority on business activity, so we spoke with two of their high-profile leaders – Dan Kelly and Doug Bruce – to get some in-depth analysis on a major study they did on this very topic. If you’re an employee or client of credit unions, it’s mostly all good. If you’re aligned with CIBC it’s less than ideal to put it politely – or just about the absolute worst, based on the research results.

As gridlock continues to wreak havoc on the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area to the tune of $6 billion in lost productivity each year, Metrolinx wants the Ontario government to implement tax increases to raise money in an effort to combat horrendous traffic congestion and promote public transit. Ideas include 25-cent parking levies at public malls, high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, raising the HST from 13 per cent to 14 per cent and, last but not least, an additional five-cent gas tax. It’s hardly an inspired effort to generate revenue without plodding back to the usual tired sources. By the way, the HST increase was promptly shot down by Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who rightly noted such an uptick would violate the terms Queen’s Park and Ottawa agreed upon when they harmonized the 5 per cent GST and the 8 per cent provincial sales tax in 2010.

Following a recent business luncheon in downtown Toronto I happened to briefly cross paths with our now former Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney a mere days before he was set to fly off to London, where he ironically began his new job on Canada Day. It was a windy, rainy afternoon on Bay Street with a distinct chill in the air. I wished Mr. Carney luck in his new job as governor with the Bank of England, to which he humorously smiled and replied “I’m going over there for the better weather.”

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