Week in Review: October 9, 2016

  1. Ontario’s Government-owned liquor monopoly – the LCBO – lost $16 million worth of booze to shoplifters and thieves in its 2015-2016 Fiscal Year. The retailer has a policy that prevents store employees from challenging or interacting with thieves in any way. They can’t even say, case “Hey – did you forget to pay for that?” So, discount the theft goes on. In fact, shop it’s so bad in some stores they don’t even report incidents of theft to the police any more. Your tax dollars at work, ladies and gentleman.

Theft of Grey Goose vodka was so bad in 2015, that LCBO stores took the product off the shelves and locked it up in a secure location.  Predictably, sales of Grey Goose dropped, so the private, for-profit vodka company approached the province’s Boozemeisters and said “Pssst!  Hey, you.  Why don’t you put these anti-theft BottleLox™ things on our vodka bottles and put the bottles back on the shelf where our customers  can buy them?  It works LITERALLY EVERYWHERE ELSE ON EARTH.”  Grey Goose even gifted the LCBO with enough locks to try it out in 10 stores.

The LCBO tried it and – LO AND BEHOLD – it worked.  Now the monopoly enterprise plans to spend up to a quarter of a million dollars to purchase 125,000 more locking devices for other high-theft products.  So much for the inherent superiority of the public sector – which would have happily continued to lose $16 million per year that should have benefited taxpayers.  Private Sector 1 – Public Sector Boozemeisters 0.

  1. Telus – the company that ate my Cellphone provider Clearnet – stepped into a big stinking pile of it’s own excrement last week by tweeting with “school-girl-at-a-Beatles-concert” exuberance, it’s joyful allegiance to Prime Minister Trudeau and his carbon-tax dictat. “We support Justin Trudea & Catherine Mckenna in putting a price on carbon.” It spent the rest of the week, being battered by the overwhelming crush of disbelief and dislike from thousands of its own customers, as well as a number of it’s fellow “charter members of the ‘Smart Prosperity’ initiative who don’t agree with the government’s unilateral and possibly unconstitutional decision to impose a national carbon tax.  Like most existential crises – this one was entirely self-manufactured.  There was no need for a corporation that exists to provide telecommunications to speak up. At all. Ever. On the carbon tax issue.  It could just have done what it thought was right.  But instead, it wanted glory.  All, because of one executive at Telus: SVP of “Communication & Sustainability” Andrea Goertz – who wanted the glory.  The fact you put those two roles together, proves that you’re not really commited to environmentalism.  It’s just a PR move. Well, Ms. Goertz and Telus are now learning why the biggest glory typically comes with the most bloodshed.
  1. Mayor John Tory is up in arms about construction companies taking lanes of traffic out of service for years at a time. Last year, he led a City Council initiative to raise the fee for builders who block off a lane of traffic for construction staging from $5.77 per square metre/month to between $26.35 and $105.41 per square metre/month.  But that did little to slow down requests from companies to close lanes for years.  This week in Council, he referred three requests for closures of up to 3 years back to staff for review, calling the requests completely unacceptable. He’s right about this. If fees alone won’t discourage this practice, it’s time to simply make long term closures illegal. Allow brief closures of lanes on some minor roads (not major arteries) for up to 1 month and no longer, and only once in a 2-year cycle. Tell construction companies they’ll just have to find another way. One way, would be to increase the setback of the building from the road by increasing the width of our sidewalks. This would be a fantastic trend. Sidewalks in heavily travelled downtown streets are too narrow – and there’s no reasonable way to extend them by reducing the road surface. The best answer is to push the buildings back from the roads, over time, by growing the sidewalks.  A one-lane increase in sidewalk width in front of all new construction would provide the same amount of staging space as closing the lane. If this means the buildings have to cantilever over the sidewalk above the podium base, so be it. If it means buildings need to add 2 or 3 additional storeys downtown – who cares? If developers won’t play ball and the ban on long term lane closures slows down the pace of construction in the city – well, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  Full speed ahead on this one, Mr. Mayor!
  1. Oh, happy day. The staff people who work for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union – its office workers, communication people, administrators, etc. are upset. OPSEU, it turns out, is a horrible place to work. No wonder OPSEU’s staff unionize to protect their rights against the big, bad evil employer that is the province’s largest public sector union. What wrongs has OPSEU and its president Smoky Thomas wrought on the aggrieved and down-trodding workers who run its business?  Well, according to a 58-page written complaint against OPSEU management submitted to the Ontario Labour Relations Board, OPSEU suspended at least 12 staff without justification, installed new surveillance cameras allegedly designed to intimidate its workers, and – joy of joys – hired “scab” labour to replace IT staff who were allegedly locked out improperly and unlawfully.  One senior executive of OPSEU – responsible for employee relations with the union’s workers – is alleged to have threatened to “gut” one employee and “kill” anyone who slighted him.  Oh, the joy of it all.