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December 2010

December 20, 2021

Holiday office parties out to embarrass us all

It’s with no disrespect we bring you this post just one day after a 63-year-old was found guilty of murdering his former boss, Benjamin David Banky, at a B.C. Christmas gathering two years ago.

1100360_musique But, nonetheless, if you haven’t had your office holiday yet, it’s surely coming, and that means three things for terrified employees:

1) Having to talk to your boss, 2) Resisting the temptation to hit on that tipsy workplace cougar who’s no doubt drenched in perfume, and 3) Performing steps 1) and 2) while getting drunk yourself. Party-goers, meet Taboo-fest, 2010, a.k.a. your annual office get-together.

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McGuinty nixes tax credit for drivers who buy winter tires

Despite repeated requests from insurers, health groups and road safety agencies seeking tax breaks for consumers, the government of Ontario has decided to leave winter tire selection to motorists.

Tire The Winter Driving Safety Coalition — which includes the Ontario Safety League, Canadian Automobile Association, Ontario Trucking Association, Rubber Association of Canada and Canadian Tire — had been calling for $25 bonuses for each snow-and-ice tire purchased.

Encouraging more drivers to use snow tires this way would reduce the number of accidents and serious injuries, saving the province millions in health-care costs, the Coalition maintains. 

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December 17, 2021

Who pays when there's a Runaway Bride/Groom?

Somehow, over the years, runaway brides have become a kind of guilty obsession for the general public.

975584_broken_heart It’s why Julia Roberts made a movie about one, and why the real-life version – that Jennifer Wilbanks woman who bailed on her wedding and went missing in 2005 – become an almost C-list celebrity during her 15 minutes in the light.

Yet what no one discusses with stories like these is, What happens to the poor schlub left on the altar? Who pays for the wedding that’s being, well, run away from?

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December 16, 2021

Recovery? Kids ask Santa for coats and boots, not toys, this year

Heartbreak is the 2:50 mark of this Lion King  clip. Heartbreak is being a Dallas Cowboys fan. And heartbreak, certainly, is this.

1248991_ As the year comes to a close and 2011’s economic forecasts heat up – RBC, for one, predicts much faster economic growth next year – anyone searching for proof the world still ain’t right should look no further.

According to USA Today, kids aren’t writing Santa for fancy toys this year, they’re asking for basic needs, such as coats, socks and shoes.

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How older people will remake the world

It’s no secret that Canadians are living longer and having fewer children. 

Older-people-001 But as the ratio of the old to the young grows ever larger, few of us seem to realize how much the effects of an aging population will touch every family, every workplace, and likely shape every public debate over the next few decades.

The aging of the world’s population “pits young against old, child against parent, worker against boss, company against rival and nation against nation,”  claims China Inc. author Ted C. Fishman in his new book Shock of Gray.

In fact, those changes are already being felt in most parts of the world, he maintains.

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December 15, 2021

If it goes, would anyone miss the penny?

Across the nation, inside every retirement home in Canada, speculation that the penny may soon be removed from circulation must be causing a stir.514164_penny_1

After all, if there are no more pennies, what are old people to jingle in their pocket –only nickels, dimes, quarters, loonies and toonies? Unacceptable. Shoppers-Drug-Mart-running-out-of-Werther’s-Original unacceptable.

Yet, in spite of their favour with the elderly, the penny sure seems to be short on use these days. Which begs the question: would anyone actually miss it?

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December 14, 2021

Should McDonald's be forced to ban toys from its Happy Meals?

When it comes to fast food, it’s not Wendy’s, Harvey’s, Burger King or otherwise that feels the wrath of consumers. It is, as it’s always been, McDonald’s that polarizes the world.

Logos_Par_42787_Image_-1_0_1 Part of that is justified, part of that is because of goofy initiatives like Super Size Me, but all of it, certainly, is not fair.

The latest attack on McDonald’s continues to churn on south of the border, but a) is it legitimate, and b) should Canada consider similar action? Should the fast food chain be forced to dump enticing children’s toys from its Happy Meals?

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Yes, Virginia, that HST cheque actually is in the mail

Ontario is now sending out the second of three Ontario Sales Tax Transition Benefit cheques to those who qualify.

Dalton The temporary relief plan was introduced by the McGuinty government to help take some of the sting out of the HST, a controversial tax change that took effect last July, and win back the hearts and minds of Ontario voters.

The benefit goes out in three instalments with a total maximum of $300 for individuals and $1,000 for families, including those headed up by single parents. Most consumers can expect their current cheque to be $100, whereas families will get $335.

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December 13, 2021

Rent a Christmas tree? Sure, but not for $100

1217980_v-evergreen After Christmas, when you haul that tree out to the curb for pick-up, do you feel a tinge of guilt?

Remarkably, that’s the question somehow driving a fast-growing industry in Canada: Christmas tree rentals.

Yes, unbeknownst to many, including this writer, there are services now across North America that offer Christmas tree rentals, hoping to capitalize on the green public’s fear that using up a new tree each holiday is, as one insider tells the CBC, “the biggest waste of (the) resource.”

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Ontario bill challenges cellphone billing practices

Canadians pay the highest cellphone rates in the world, according to a recent report from UTR Global, a company that audits telephone usage for businesses.

Phone This might explain why most of us are so unhappy with whichever company we’ve ended up with. Aside from rising prices, the most common complaints: inaccurate bills, inadequate customer service, and deceptive contract terms.

Not only are prices high across the board, but the big telecommunication companies repeatedly fail to make consumers aware of better pricing options, bill for service that has been disconnected or apply the wrong rate or plan when billing, UTR claims.

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...