A scarier and more private Cold War

In case you’ve been cooped up raging against the news over COVID-19. Here’s something that you might have missed. The Guardian published a fantastic whistleblower account of Facebook’s inability to properly police it’s own policies.

You can read it here. Sophie Zhang was a low level employee who’s job it was to police fake engagement on the site. Essentially when someone tries to boost their own profile through getting fake likes to game the algorithm. She was let go under less than auspicious circumstances as outlined in the article.

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And to top it all off…the LCBO is broken…

Protip to the powers that be. If you’re going to declare a crown corporation an essential service during a pandemic, make sure it’s equipped to handled the pandemic!

This week, we all got the surprise (not a surprise) announcement that Ontario schools would be shut down indefinitely post our current April Break. This in the midst of a shutdown or lockdown or whatever it’s called now. We’re told to shop curbside primarily, most retail stores are closed to indoor browsing. Restaurants are limited now to only curbside pick up. Only essential businesses are allowed to remain open. Amongst those essential businesses is the LCBO.

Now I’m sure you’re thinking “Hey, great, I’ll just stock up on some of my favourite wines or craft beers and just hunker down and entertain myself and my family for the time being.” How am I supposed to order from the LCBO in these times of uncertainty? Well online of course. Just like every one else is told they are to pivot to now. You can order from the LCBO online, except for one caveat. If you’re sitting on gift cards from a birthday or from Christmas, you can’t use them.

Yep, that’s right. Every other retailer in the world enables you to cash in gift cards online for purchases. Not the LCBO though. That is too advanced for the government’s monopoly run liquor retailer. Don’t believe me? Visit the website here and try to use your own gift cards to purchase something:

Normally, this would just be a sign of a policy that would cost a company money. However, it’s a government run business. In the middle of a government mandated lockdown. This has been going on for a year now. There has been plenty of time to ensure your payment system is on par with the 21st century economy.

This has just been another inconsistent messaging mistake in a long line of mistakes from this government. How can you tell people to stay at home and use curbside for essential services like the LCBO, but not provide them with the tools to do so? This may seem inconsequential, but it’s just another example of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing. Which at this point, really shouldn’t be surprising to any of us.

This is what a Canadian Rebellion looks like

The news of the day is of course, the Peel medical officer of health, Dr. Lawrence Loh invoking his authority to close schools for the next two weeks.

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The signs are there, the Ontario government is grasping at straws

I have said many many times on here, that the province’s communications on COVID-19 is just as vital as the vaccine. We need to know what to do and how to do it to keep ourselves save. Its a lesson our provincial government is still struggling to learn.

A few months ago, we were coming out of the second wave. Lockdown restrictions were being lifted and the hope was we’d be getting vaccinations soon to help prevent another situation from arising like we’d just experienced. I had hoped that lessons had been learned, that plans would’ve been adjusted to encourage behaviour that would prevent the need for a third lockdown.

It appears that is not to be the case.

In today’s episode of The 905er, we go off on the status quo in Ontario. Listen to it here:

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Stepping into the future

This weekend I got a chance to dive head first into what I think is the future of post-COVID-19 economy.

A while back I signed up for the freelancing site Upwork.com. You can check out my profile here if you’re curious.

I bid on a contract to help with some blog postings. I got it.

The contractor was in Dubai, who in turn needed the help to get a company in Somalia up to speed on how to write excellent web content for their website.

It was an enlightening glimpse into what a post COVID-19 global world might look like. As we’ve been forced to retreat from social interactions, much of our life is now done online. It is no surprise that much of our commerce is done online these days. We were already heading down that path before the pandemic. This has only sped up the change.

I found it eye opening to what could be. First off, the need for reliable internet is going to be paramount for the 21st Century. I’ve written that we need to change our perspective on internet in this country before. Second was how Africa is going to be the new frontier. Much of how China was toted as being the new economic frontier in the 1990’s, the focus has shifted to Africa. China is already capitalizing on this trend, focusing on it’s infamous Silk Road Initiative.

If our economy is going to recover post COVID-19, we’re going to have to look globally. To new frontiers and new economies to engage in. Africa is one of those new frontiers we ought to be looking at.

Carbon Pricing is here to stay…That’s a good thing.

The news of Canada is of course, the Supreme Court’s ruling that the federal price on carbon emissions is of course constitutional. You can read it in it’s entirety here:

As the title suggests, I’m in favour of this ruling. For starters it finally puts an end to this pointless and petty argument from Conservative premiers in the country. We can finally focus our attention on real issues of the day.

More importantly, it forces our economy to finally leap into the 21st century. As I’ve written before, innovation and competition is in short supply in this country. As well, its time we faced facts that the fossil fuel industry isn’t the panacea we’ve all be raised to believe. We’ve had two Prime Ministers now, of two different parties, all keen on building pipelines. Yet the world is moving on. We in Canada need to as well.

Economies of the world are embracing new technologies. The internal combustion engine a staple of the modern era is going the way of the dinosaur. Green electric vehicles will soon become the norm. The repercussions of that will be widely impacted through out the economy.

A carbon pricing method, is the kickstart our economy needs to foster and boost innovation and invention to meet the new demand. As pricing increases, its basic market principles that will encourage efficiency and sustainability as cornerstones for manufacturing and logistics in the economy. While companies will no doubt pass along costs to consumers, what a carbon price does is encourage ways for companies to reduce their production costs which will of course be passed along to consumers. In the long terms, consumers benefit from a cleaner environment and cheaper products. Win, win.

The good news is that carbon pricing has already fostered invention. As can be seen here:

It’s not the end all solution. And some of the questions raised in the report definitely need to be addressed, yet it’s the kind of innovation that I like to see. If we’re to build a better and more sustainable economy post COVID-19, then this is the kind of thinking that will be required.

What if we could live in the future, today?

The most recent episode of The 905er. We spoke with Mike Moffatt on the reasons why housing in the province does nothing but go up. If you live in Ontario, I highly recommend you listen:

We’ve been paralyzed in this province by a lack of vision.

Too long the people of the province are caught between developers and NIMBY’s. Development in our province is reduced to an all or nothing proposition. Often it’s either small town Ontario, or Downtown Toronto. In the end developers win and we are left with a mish mash, hodge podge looking community.

It is clear density is needed, if we are to preserve our farmland and greenspace. Yet that doesn’t mean we need to stuck into a binary argument. This pandemic has presented options that we never needed to contemplate before. Working is becoming decentralized. The old model of planning of creating suburbs for people to live while commuting to a larger city on highways is outdated and quite frankly dead.

We have seen that working from home can be the wave of the future. If our community planners would embrace this as the model for the future, imagine the cities and communities we could live in? More viable greenspace and parks for people to enjoy, public wifi access in urban centres, denser living but more hospitable to humans. We could live in truly 21st Century environment.

We just need the will to do it.

Further Proof That I am Ahead of the Curve…

Last night The Falcon and The Winter Soldier premiered on Disney +.

Four years go I tweeted this:

Where is the competition?

Big news in the business world yesterday in Canada was about Sobey’s purchase of Longo’s for $357 million. Giving them 51% control of Longo’s with an option to control 100% down the road. Normally, it would be the case of another business deal in Canada, however take a step back and see just what the parent company of Sobey’s now owns. Empire Company Ltd., now owns Farmboy, Safeway, IGA, Sobey’s FreshCO, Foodland and now Longo’s.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Rogers is looking to purchase Shaw in the telecom industry. A move that would make them the second largest telecom company in the country.

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