Peak Picks

The next Bond: The Ringer has published the definitive argument for making Tom Hardy the next Bond, and it's pretty persuasive. If it's not going to be Idris Elba, we're down with Tom.

What's on: It's looking more and more like lockdowns are coming, so here's 15 binge-able shows to help get you through the second wave. 

The Bat Cave: A secret "man cave" was discovered below Grand Central Station. 3 transit workers had turned the storage room into a hang space complete with a TV, futon, and workout gear. Seems like a good repurposing if you ask us.
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Leftovers

The Federal Government tabled legislation to extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy into next summer and introduce a new benefit to bridge the end of the CERB.
 
BlackBerry beat revenue forecasts on the strength of brand licensing deals, but fell short of growth targets for its software business.
 
Hootsuite scrapped a contract with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after receiving blowback on social media and from staff.
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Bear Season

Despite gains yesterday, this has been the first bad week for stocks in a while. 
 
By the numbers: 
 
  • The S&P 500 has fallen 9.6% from its peak earlier this month. 
  • The Nasdaq is down 11.8% from its heights. 
  • The TSX is down almost 6% from its late August peak.
Unfortunately, much of what's driving the downward trend is outside of our control as its rooted in what's happening the United States right now: 
 
  • Political instability: The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has increased the volatility of an already unstable political situation and made an election meltdown scenario even more likely.
  • No more stimulus: With Congress deadlocked, it appears that another round of stimulus before the November election isn't going to happen. Existing stimulus is running out, which means America is heading into months without critical emergency relief. 
  • Second wave: It appears that much of the United States is already enduring a second wave of COVID that could inflict even more damage on the economy.
What's next for Canada: Any disruptions in the U.S. will have an impact on Canada too. But in some ways we are better positioned to weather economic turmoil with a more controlled COVID outbreak, greater political stability, and ongoing emergency relief and stimulus.
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Coalition of the Willing

A coalition of tech companies are forming a coalition to fight Apple and "protect the app economy." 
 
What's the issue: Tech companies that depend on downloads from the App Store for their business model hate that Apple takes a 30% cut on any in-app transactions while also forbidding companies from sending customers outside their app to complete transactions.
 
Who's in the coalition: Major tech names like Spotify, Epic Games, and Match Group (which owns Tinder and Hinge).
 
What do they say: The coalition argues that Apple's 30% transaction fee amounts to an unfair tax and that Apple is abusing its dominant position in the market to undermine competition and stifle innovation.
 
What does Apple say: Apple argues its fee is standard across online marketplaces and that it merely provides a platform for apps that companies can choose to opt-out of if they don't like the terms.
 
What's next: With 13 initial members in the coalition including major companies like Spotify, Apple's opponents have assembled some real leverage. It would be difficult for the company to boot apps like Tinder, Hinge, and Spotify off its platform without inflicing serious damage on itself.
 
And don't forget... Governments are increasingly looking at using anti-trust laws to regulate big tech companies. The coalition's arguments are carefully constructed to align with the emerging anti-trust case against companies like Apple.
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Dancing with Myself

Belarusian President  Alexander Lukashenko channeled Billy Idol when he inaugurated himself, in a surprise ceremony, to a 6th term in office on Wednesday. It's safe to assume the low key swearing in wasn't because Lukashenko just wanted some alone time. 

Backstory: Belarus has been dealing with mass protests ever since the country's August 9th election, where Lukashenko claimed victory with 80% of the vote. Opposition parties and western observers are calling the results fraudulent. On the ground the people of Belarus believe the election was fairly won by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.

Under Pressure
The opposition is calling for a pile on, which would include:
  • Other countries refraining from formally recognizing Lukashenko as the leader of Belarus after November 5th, the expiration of his last five year term.
  • Imposing and enforcing economic sanctions and travel bans against Lukashenko and his allies.

Canada's Involvement: Our government, along with others, has called for an expert mission to investigate the electoral fraud and violence towards protesters. Canada had sanctioned Belarus from 2006 until 2016, when the Liberal government attempted re-engage Lukashenko.

Big Picture: The European Union attempted to pass sanctions against Lukashenko and allies, but the measures were vetoed by Cyprus, an EU member country who, like Lukashenko, is aligned with Russia. Belarusian opposition are public stating that Canada and the United States must step up on sanctions to provide a counter balance.

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Shady Shopify

Two Shopify employees have been turfed after it was revealed they stole an unknown amount of  customer information from 200 merchants. This is a blemish on the squeaky clean Canadian company, they've reassured customers that no credit card or banking information was stolen, and that the breach is not a technical vulnerability but the result of employees going "rogue."

Fallout:
  • The investigation has been referred to the FBI and other international law enforcement agencies for a criminal investigation.
  • Shopify shares (TSE:SHOP) closed down 3.4% yesterday, but as you'll notice from all the red above, it was a bad day on the market.

Longterm: Shopify remains a home grown global powerhouse, and this breach is practically already a distant memory. We're still big Shopify fans.

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No Peace

One of the three police officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor has been indicted by a grand jury on three counts. The two other officers who fired shots were not charged, and no charges have been announced for actually causing her death.

Back Story: Breonna Taylor was killed by police this summer in Louisville, KY, when they raided her apartment late at night. Her death, that of George Floyd and many others at the hands of police drove the massive Black Lives Matter protests that erupted across the United States and the world over the past several months.

Soft on Crime: The charges against the, now former, officer Brett Hankinson, are neither homicide nor manslaughter but the much lighter "wanton endangerment," which carries a maximum sentence of five years. The crime Hankinson allegedly committed was firing through a glass door and window, both of which were covered by blinds, a violation of police department policy requiring a clear line of sight to fire a weapon.

Fallout:

  • Breonna Taylor's family was awarded a $12 million settlement in a wrongful death suit against the city of Louisville, but lawyers for the family insisted there would be no justice without murder charger against all three officers.
  • Protesters took to the streets in Lousiville and around the United States outraged at the leniency afforded to the officers involved in this case and many other cases of police shootings of people of colour.

Zoom Out...This summer the United States experienced months of intense and energetic protests against police brutality with Breonna Taylor as a central rallying point. This outcome has a lot of people who are hungry for change feeling that the people in power aren't responding.

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1,000,000 Jobs!

Canada's Governor General Julie Payette delivered the speech from the throne yesterday, outlining the Liberal Government's pledge to do "whatever it takes" to support the economy through the pandemic.

What is a Throne Speech?
Good question, the speech from the throne is delivered by the Governor General to Parliament at the beginning of a new sitting. Although the GG is technically the representative of the Queen, the speech is written by the governing party and used to provide an overview of their legislative agenda.

What's On Tap This Parliament?
Another good question, look at you! Attention grabbing announcements made in the speech include:

  • 1,000,000 jobs to be created through environmentally focused measures.
  •  "Commitment" to early learning and child care programs, and"work toward" a universal pharmacare program.
  • An extension of the Canadian Emergency Wages Subsidy through next summer.
  • New taxes on "extreme wealth inequality," and "digital giants."
  • The creation of a testing assistance response team to improve covid testing capacity and reduce wait times.

What's Next?
First, the throne speech must pass parliament, which requires the support of at least the Conservatives or NDP, failure to get the votes would lead to an election. If passed, Canadians will just have to wait and see if and how the Liberals will deliver on their promises in turbulent times.
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Peak Picks

  • In May, the Trump administration seized a $3 million transformer on its way to Colorado. Now it's being studied in a government lab in New Mexico...
  • Introducing SopranoTok – the Italian mafia is on TikTok and it gives us a glimpse into the changing world of organized crime.
  • Controversial podcaster Joe Rogan is already causing a headache for Spotify. How will Shopify's experience affect future media deals?
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Leftovers

COVID: US Coronavirus related deaths top 200,000 as cases in previously spared parts of the country surge.

Carbon Tax: Ontario and Nova Scotia struck a deal with Ottawa to impose a carbon tax on industry. The move was meant to strengthen the province's Supreme Court case against the federal government.

Flu Shot: Ontario invests $70million to purchase 5.1 million doses of the 2020 flu shot to avoid 'twindemic'.

Fundraising: Boston-based Providence Strategic Growth acquired a majority stake in Nova Scotia startup Wagepoint. The investment includes $10 million in new capital.
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