Give Them a Break

Posted: 17/01/2018 9:49:20 AM

Six months ago, if you asked random Canadians on the street what they thought about Tim Hortons, the vast majority of them would probably say positive things. In this country we’ve always had time for Tim Hortons. So it is inconceivable that suddenly Tim Hortons is front and centre in the debate on how companies treat minimum wage employees. I would say that the guy who built Tim Hortons is spinning in his grave except he’s still very much alive. That would be Ron Joyce Sr., the genius that built the Tim Hortons empire—an iconic brand that most Canadians felt reflected Canadian values. That’s Ron Sr. Do not confuse him with Ron Jr.

Ron Jr. is the son. Kind of like Fredo in The Godfather. Ron Jr. is also in the Tim Hortons business. He owns two stores up in Cobourg, Ontario. In his spare time he sits around in Florida and comes up with cost-saving measures designed to improve the Tim Hortons experience. Not for the customers or the employees but, you know, for the owners. People like him.

For example, this past Christmas Ron Jr. came up with this idea that from now on his employees at Tim Hortons who make minimum wage, when they work a nine-hour shift he will only pay them for eight hours and 20 minutes. You see he’s upset about this increase in minimum wage, so he thought he would make a point on the backs of his employees.  You’ve got to hand it to Jr. He is very committed to his work. It is not easy destroying the Tim Hortons brand. It’s exhausting. Especially in the Florida heat.

If you ever wondered why we need minimum labour standards in this country, look no further. Leave it up to some of these owners, every Hortons in the country would be staffed by grandmothers doing twelve-hour shifts for tea bags. It’s time that Tim Hortons realize people are now watching. And if Tim’s doesn’t do a U-turn fast, customers in their drive-through just might.


A Rink on a Hill

Posted: 06/12/2017 9:11:56 AM

Well it’s pretty much unanimous among the media, the pundits, the opposition; everyone is upset about this hockey rink that’s opening on Parliament Hill. If you look at the coverage, you’d swear it’s not a hockey rink at all but a crime against humanity.

Now if you’re not familiar with the story, log on and look at the Parliament Hill webcam. It’s practically my homepage. It’s an amazing image. The Government of Canada has gone out and they’ve built a temporary outdoor hockey rink, complete with bleachers and boards. It’s just sitting there on the lawn of the parliament buildings.

Now of course, people are upset because it’s the government, it cost a whack of cash. Also because it’s the government there are all these government kind of rules like you can’t text and skate at the same time; you can’t slam pucks off the boards during family skating. People are also upset because the government’s going to spend about a million bucks bringing in peewee hockey teams from all over Canada for a tournament.

Look, I don’t live in Ottawa. Like the vast majority of Canadians I am never going to see this thing in person. And you know what? I still love it. I can’t help myself, I think it looks cool.

And the image of 10 year olds playing hockey on the Hill, that’s going to be seen all over the world. A world in which, sadly, far too many houses of government are wrapped in barbed wire and machine guns. And in this joyous holiday season, if Canada is seen as a place where 10 year olds can skate in the shadow of the Peace Tower, what’s not to love?



Censor Censure

Posted: 29/11/2017 9:17:05 AM

Laurier University was in the news last week and, sadly, not because the Laurier Golden Hawks have won three provincial curling championships in a row. Nope. They dragged a teaching assistant over the coals for the egregious crime of showing an interview in her classroom that had originally aired on public television. Now the idea being, the students would watch the interview and then discuss the content. I know it’s a slippery slope. You allow that kind of thing to go on at university, next thing you know they will be drowning kittens.

Now the amazing thing about this story is not that it’s so absurd, it’s that it’s happening so often. Every time we turn around we hear about discussion and debate being disallowed at university because someone is offended. Speaking of which, the offending video in the Laurier story is an interview with a guy, who in my opinion, is an irritating dinosaur on some silly crusade against gender neutral pronouns. How do I have this opinion? I watched the video. I don’t agree with the guy in the video, but I’m glad I watched it.

But more importantly I’m very glad that a so called institute of higher learning is not in charge of what I can and can not watch. If that was the case I wouldn’t have an opinion; I’d be ignorant. Which I guess would make me the ideal student of the future. All Universities should be paying very close attention to this. Because the idea that young adults can not be exposed to unpopular opinion in the classroom—that’s an idea that’s about as dangerous as an idea can get.


Economic Decency

Posted: 22/11/2017 9:29:44 AM

In about half of the provinces of this country, there is a scenario unfolding. Some would call it a nefarious plot that could lead to economic devastation and a complete breakdown in social order. I’m talking about an increase in the minimum wage. To hear the experts talk about it you’d swear it was going to lead to the end of civilization as we know it.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce are so flipped out about this; they have been on a tour of the province for about a year. They roll into a town, invite local business leaders down to the ballroom of a hotel. It’s always during the work day. They charge between 60 and 130 bucks a seat. And they all sit around and talk about what a bad idea it would be if the waiter, that guy over there holding 35 pounds of seared chicken and butternut squash on a tray gets a tiny raise. It’s an irony free zone.

In my family there’s a young man who works stocking shelves in a supermarket. He works nights. He only works nights because he gets an extra buck-twenty an hour to do so. One dollar and twenty cents an hour above minimum wage. He gives up access to daylight and members of the opposite sex for a buck-twenty. Why? Because he’s poor. He’s the working poor. He is doing everything he can to get ahead. But he’s not. If it wasn’t for family he would be sunk.

I understand small and medium-sized businesses, they are the economic engine of this country. But to run an engine you need gas in the tank. And you need a workforce that at least has a chance of surviving in this world. Right now, minimum wage earners—they’re not coming close.


Just Don't, Jason

Posted: 15/11/2017 9:41:47 AM

When I was a teenager I didn’t know a single gay person. As far as I was concerned I was the only gay dude within a hundred miles in every direction. Now for a young person that’s a very difficult situation in which to find yourself. When I was in high school there was certainly no such thing as a gay-straight alliance (GSA). Thank God we had the drama club‚ which basically turned out to be the same thing.

Now there are GSAs all over Canada. And in Alberta there’s Bill 24. Now this is legislation that tells schools they are not to pick up the phone and call parents and inform them if a student is seen attending a GSA meeting. Now you may ask why would anyone need legislation like that. I’ll tell you why. You remember Jason Kenney? He was banging around Ottawa for decades. Well now he’s back!

Jason made a name for himself nationally as a loud, proud activist against same sex marriage. Although you can’t really blame the guy for that. We’re talking about the olden days, way back in 2005. And for a fella like Jason, the epitome of old school masculinity, I mean the notion of two fellas getting married, well that was enough to  give him the vapours. And lesbians? That’s the stuff of Jason’s nightmares.

Now imagine Jason’s shock when, after 20 years in Ontario, he returns to run Alberta for them and finds out they’ve had GSAs there for years now. So it was Jason who said the schools should tell the parents if a kid attends a GSA. Much in the same way that parents are contacted immediately if a student shows any interest in joining the school’s newspaper or, God forbid—the improv club—both activities that will lead to a lifetime of confusion.

This is all about outing young people and it is serious because there is a very good chance that Jason Kenney will be the next Premier of Alberta. Jason. Stop it. Stick to playground rules. Pick on someone your own size.