Predatory Practice

Posted: 14/03/2018 9:36:08 AM

Well you gotta hand it to them; they certainly seem like nice people. The payday loan people. They advertise non-stop. Their commercials are constantly on the radio and the television. They’ve got those catchy jingles that were written by Satan himself so they enter your head and they just stay there forever. You need cash? You need money? They’ve got cash and money. The business model is very simple. If you show up and you’re upright and you’ve got air in one lung they’ll give you money.

The terms are incredibly reasonable or at least they seem generous. Like, say you’re in Ontario, say you want a thousand bucks, they’ll give you a thousand bucks. But they’ll charge you 15 bucks for every hundred bucks. Now, math is not my high suit but even I can figure this out. 15 bucks on a hundred bucks, that’s 15 percent. That sounds pretty good. Except it’s not. Because it’s 15 percent every two weeks. Thanks to the miracle of compound interest that's an annual interest rate of 390 percent.

They are giving cash advances to the poorest, most vulnerable people in society and charging an annual interest rate of 390 percent. Loansharking is 60 percent. I would call them weasels except weasels have a moral compass. Every province has tried to regulate this industry and still they manage to find a ways to operate. Kind of the way that poison gas will fit under the crack of any door. It's time for the federal government to get serious here; forget the regulations, seal their doors, shut them down.


Keep Going Canada Go

Posted: 07/03/2018 9:49:03 AM

Okay sports fans, we are just two days away from the opening of the Paralympics in PyeongChang. I have been very lucky in my job. I've probably met with and played with close to a hundred Paralympians. I have been beaten by, humiliated by, and inspired by Canadian athletes missing every combination of limb you could possibly imagine.

If you are an able bodied person and you have never really tucked in and watched the Paralympics, you’ve got to do this. There's stuff going on there you didn’t even know was possible. Guys like John Leslie, Canadian champion snowboarder. Dude had his  foot and ankle amputated, they took that, they laid that over there; then they took off his leg above the knee. Then they got the foot and ankle and they reattached it where the knee used to be, except backwards and that foot and ankle now functions as a knee. Which he snowboards on—very fast—for Canada.

Then there’s the sledge hockey guys. Those guys are only happy when they’re slamming into one another. You get Canada versus USA in sledge hockey, it is fast, it is furious, to the uninitiated it looks like a group of paraplegics doing everything in their power to become quadriplegics.

We are two days out from an amazing games. Canada's Paralympic team—there’s no tougher and no finer. And like all great Olympians, they make for great TV.


Instagram Diplomacy

Posted: 28/02/2018 9:52:48 AM

Justin Trudeau and his family have returned from a whirlwind eight-day visit to India. Despite some adorable family pictures on Instagram, I think it's safe to say things got a little weird over there. You know when the Beatles went to India and hung out with the Maharishi Yogi things got freaky too but they had an excuse—they were swallowing tabs of LSD like they were Glosettes. 

It is one thing to tip your hat to a culture that you are visiting but the Trudeaus, they dove into the deep end of the Ganges. They did not come up for air. They had a traditional Indian outfit picked out for every single day of the week. At one point Justin showed up in public wearing the outfit of a traditional Indian groom. And Sophie was his traditional Indian bride. Who does that? I’ll tell you who does it—Indian people. On their wedding day. Not two visitors from Montreal. When the Prime Minister of Japan shows up in Canada he does not get off the plane wearing his Anne of Green Gables wig and his peasant dress. No, that's for private time. 

Now, of course, it wasn't all dress up in India; there was also, unfortunately, official business. Marred by the fact that the Prime Minister's Office accidentally invited a convicted attempted murderer to a dinner and a reception. Now this guy is Canadian, he shot an Indian Cabinet Minister and our government invited him to a reception in India. How does that happen? 

Governing is supposed to be serious business. And yet despite all this, some people are calling the trip a success. Yes, I guess if you judge success by the number of likes you get on Instagram. My fear is that for this government those likes are good enough.


Focus on the Olympics

Posted: 07/02/2018 9:13:28 AM

I have been very lucky in my career to hangout and even train with many Olympians and Paralympians. For a guy who consistently failed to medal in the Canada Fitness Award Program in school, it has been an unexpected honour. But after meeting so many of these elite athletes up close I gotta tell you, it may look like a glamorous life but it is not.

I have never met a group of people who so routinely make so many personal sacrifices for their job. And they start so young. At a time when most people are navigating grade eight, they basically put any semblance of a normal life on hold so they can devote all their time and energy to one thing. Then they spend the rest of their formative years doing that one thing over and over again with one goal in mind. Representing us—representing Canada—at the Olympics. The only break they ever had in their schedule is occasionally they’ll be asked to pee in a cup by a total stranger. They redefine commitment.

Look at snowboarder Mark McMorris. How good is this guy? He is the first snowboarder in the world to land a Backside Triple Cork 1440. I don't even know what that is. But I am in awe of this guy. Less than a year ago, he hit a tree and broke his arm, his ribs, his pelvis and his jaw. I think it's safe to say that if that happened to any of us, we might take a break from downhill sports. Not Mark McMorris. He is in PyeongChang, Korea right now with one goal in mind—making us proud.

When it comes to the Winter Olympics and Team Canada, the division of labour is crystal clear: They do all the work, we do the cheering. Now let's do our job so they can do theirs.



Time to Reboot

Posted: 31/01/2018 10:15:29 AM

I can’t tell you how many times in my life I have been in awe of modern technology. High speed internet, smart phones; we live in amazing times. The advancements have been incredible to watch. But you know what? I think we should stop now. I think we were heading in the right direction, but somewhere we made a U-turn. It used to be that you turn on your computer, you use your computer, it was great and that was that. Now I turn on my computer, the first thing it does is it tells me it's going to turn itself off, reboot and then download a system upgrade which will take 20 minutes to an hour, depending on its mood.

Phones are worse. If you have an iPhone it needs to be updated more often than a baby needs to be changed. My phone threatens me like a mob boss. It tells me if I don't accept the upgrade bad things will happen. So you accept the upgrade, next thing you know your battery doesn’t last as long and you’re getting traffic updates you never wanted.

Everything about technology that was supposed to help us is now starting to torture us. Remember when Siri first came along? She was helpful and interesting. She liked my questions. Now she's like a drunk who makes no sense. She gets angry and defensive if you ask her what the date is.

Yes, technology is more efficient now than it ever was but instead of giving us more free time, its original purpose, it's more demanding on our time. It's enslaving us. And really, I don't know what we’re going to do about it because, honestly, I can't  imagine living any other way.