Take the damn shot!

In light of NACi’s complete mess of a communications plan yesterday I thought I’d chime in with my rudimentary experience. Last week I got my Astra Zeneca shot at a local pharmacy. Finding the shot was a mess in and of itself. A story for another time. However, as my typing out this piece can attest. I am well and fine.

So of course this was a surprise yesterday:

The only side effects I received from the Astra Zeneca vaccine was a bad case of the chills, night sweats and a mild fever. For about 24 hours I felt like I was in a pretty bad flu spell. Luckily the time passed and now I feel fine. I didn’t panic because I had educated myself on what doctors and scientists were saying. Expect some mild symptoms of COVID-19, and the risks of blot clots etc were minuscule. Doing the rudimentary math in my head I went and found a place o jab me int he arm. I don’t regret it for a second.

We have a way out of this pandemic. We have multiple vaccines available to us. Which means we don’t need to worry about one plant producing vaccines for all of us. Multiple sources means we should be able to get doses to everyone.

This isn’t the time to play vaccine favouritism. In the end they all protect us from COVID-19 and that’s what matters. If you get an opportunity to get a shot in your arm. Take it. Do your part, for all our sakes.

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.

Did we Miss an Opportunity?

We are reminiscing on the one year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its natural to look at the lives lost, the jobs lost, and the upending of our lives due to this pandemic. However, there has been something that has been stuck in the back of my mind. Despite the losses we have all felt from this pandemic, I believe there is an opportunity presented to us. A chance to innovate and improve on the status quo.

Going into lockdown one year ago, left many industries and businesses forced to redesign long standing logistics and business models. While service and professional industries could realign into a virtual environment relatively easily, the retail and restaurant industries were forced to seriously rethink their models. The restaurant industry continues to struggle, mostly due to its nature of being a socially active endeavour. However I have noticed that retail locations in Canada are notoriously slow to adapt to change.

It is well known that Amazon has been making a killing due to COVID-19. If there was a company that was made to thrive during a global pandemic, Amazon seems to be it. The criticism of Amazon for building a monopoly in online retail is somewhat undeserved in my opinion. Amazon has simply foreseen the landscape of commerce and is capitalizing on the opportunity that COVID-19 has present it with. I ask, where are the competitors. More importantly, why aren’t they Canadian?

Currently, the biggest competitor to Amazon is Walmart. For years the American retail giant has been encouraging customers to purchase online, with a big component being their curbside pick up:

During the pandemic, Walmart has upped their game to expand their e-commerce platform into fully automated fulfillment centres. Much akin to Amazon’s testing the waters with their Amazon Go sites. Walmart recently announced a partnership with new Canadian start up Ghost Kitchen, expanding their ability to bring American Brands to the Canadian market. All of this bodes well for consumers, as major brands strive to accomodate our lifestyles as opposed to demanding we meet theirs. The pandemic has encouraged Amazon and Walmart, to embrace innovation and change in order to remain competitive in the market place.

This of course, raises the question of where is the great Canadian innovation? We are with our own well known Canadian brands of course, and yet when it comes to see what they are offering, we are left wanting. I look at who would be positioned to at least make the in roads to disrupt the old styles of shopping in Canada and the first options I come up with are Indigo and Loblaws.

Indigo already has a starting point to compete with Amazon. Both companies started out with selling books. Indigo has expanded their online retailing to offer some additional wares from their retail locations. Unfortunately that seems to be where the innovation ends. Anecdotally, my wife bought an online gift card for Christmas from Indigo. Unfortunately, there was a mix up and she had to return it. The refund was only put through a few weeks ago, after a needlessly frustrating encounter with their customer service department. Is this an apples to apples comparison, no, but it did indicate a difference in cultures between Walmart and Amazon and Indigo.

In the case of Loblaws, for a year now, curbside pickup has been synonymous with the retail experience. Major retailers that offer apps to place orders are common place. However, they do not charge fees. Shopping online at Fortinos, a subsidiary of Loblaws, comes with added fees for curbside pickup. I cannot say if these fees carry over to other Loblaws locations, as we not have any others in our community. However the argument that the fee is required for the cost of curbside is ludicrous. Call it what it is, a deterent to the service in order to drive traffic inside their stores, so that they can rely on good ol’ product placement to encourage shopping. This technique is antiquated and more harmful in the long run.

Where is the drive on the part of major Canadian brands to meet the consumer where they are currently? Curbside, mail order, and online shopping are no longer premium nice to haves in the retail landscape. Like it or not, COVID-19 has sped up the change that was already here. Online retailing is the future. The age of the brick and mortar store is dying. Make the effort to change and make the changes to encourage your customers to embrace the changes.

We need competition in the market place. Walmart and Amazon are not invulnerable to upstarts. Canadian brands are well placed to take on the challenge. The only thing holding them back is culture. Innovate and look forward, rather than wait for things to return to normal. Normal isn’t coming back. New habits have formed after a year. If retailers wish to thrive once pandemic restrictions are lifted, they need to be poised to run as soon the gun is triggered. If Canadian retailers are expecting a return to old, they will be sorely mistaken. Some things from this pandemic aren’t going away. One of them is increased use of online retail. Now is the time to get this right. Playing it safe will not be its own reward.

Normal may not be coming back for a while

I woke up this morning and saw this thread on Twitter:

Essentially, the argument goes is that what life was like pre-COVID-19 is never coming back. Governments around the world are banking on a vaccine roll out to be completed by the end of this year at the most extreme timeline. Based on current trends I find that to be dubious at best. However, it is still highly inconsistent on a global level.

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Biden is elected, and some uncomfortable truths need to be discussed in Canada

Yesterday was a great day for many Americans and fans of democracy around the world. I am of course describing the inauguration of Joe Biden as president of the United States. After four years of Trump, a return the sanity and reasonable discourse from the Oval Office is very much welcomed. There is one person though who is definitely not happy about this. Jason Kenney.

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Words Matter, Actions Even More

The love affair between mainstream political parties on the right and the far right causes may finally be coming to an end. I say may be, because it has been a long standing relationship for sometime now. The attempted insurrection on Jan 6th, in Washington D.C. served as a wake up call to conservative political movements world wide. The attempt to foster a reliable base of hardcore right wing supporters seems to have backfired. This base is quickly being revealed to be comprised of conspiracy theorists, racist organizations and other ne’er do wells. Clearly the kind of company mainstream conservative political parties no longer wish to cozy up to.

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It’s a Wonderful Life, is still relevant today…and that’s a problem.

Last night, I finally sat to down to watch my favourite Christmas movie. The timeless classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s themes of our common humanity and the impact one person can have on his or her friends and family, still resonate today. Maybe this year it’s more important than other years to hear that message.

However, there was one scene that stuck out to me though:

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