Quebéc’s big fight against English

Quebéc is demanding that out-of-town university students parle Français, lest they pay the price. 

What happened: Quebéc’s government plans to propose a measure that would raise tuition fees for out-of-province and international students at the province’s three English-language universities (McGill, Concordia, and Bishop’s) as a way to beat back Anglo incursions. 

Amazon wants you to become a regular

Just in time for the holidays, Amazon is rolling out tools designed to get you to spend more. 

Driving the news: Amazon is testing a new ‘Buy Again’ feature aiming to persuade customers to make repeat purchases based on their order history, part of the company’s latest effort to drive up sales amid a post-pandemic slump, per the Wall Street Journal.

Social media is awash in Israel-Palestine disinformation

Consider this a gentle reminder to not trust everything you see online.  

Driving the news: Social media is now flooded with news about the Israel-Hamas war, as happens when any major world event unfurls these days. However, experts warn that the speed and scale at which disinformation is being spread is unprecedented, per WIRED

PAW Patrol is a Canadian success story

If you’ve had a passing interaction with a small child recently, chances are you’re aware of PAW Patrol, the animated series about heroic dogs. In fact, the show’s second movie hit theatres this month and had the largest box office opening for a Canadian film in a decade.

And now, the company behind it just made a move to get even bigger. 

What happened: Toronto-based toy giant Spin Master agreed to buy US toymaker Melissa & Doug for a cool US$950 million. Melissa & Doug specializes in toys for preschoolers and wooden jigsaw puzzles, diversifying Spin Master’s already vast portfolio of toys and games. 

The world is addicted to bad food

People worldwide are falling into bad eating habits (though we blame the food).

Driving the news: One in seven adults globally could be addicted to ultra-processed foods, according to an analysis of 281 studies across 36 countries that was released yesterday. The analysis shows that ultra-processed foods like ice cream, fast food and ready-made meals now make up more than half of the average diet for people in the UK and US.

23andMe user data leaked

Your new 23andMe results just came in! 80% Scotch-Irish. 20% Greek. 100% hacked.

What happened: Popular genetic testing website 23andMe is requiring users to reset their passwords after the personal information and details around the genetic ancestry of up to 7 million people leaked last week. Hackers are now trying to sell the data on the dark web.

Putting the stocks in Birkenstocks

A 249-year-old orthopedic sandal maker is now one of the year’s top IPOs amongst a crowd of buzzy tech companies. How did that happen? 

Driving the news: Birkenstock is hitting the public market today, with the German shoemaker aiming to sell ~32 million shares for US$46 a pop, giving the company a ~$9.2 billion valuation. 

Starbucks wants to weatherproof its coffee supply

Poor weather conditions are threatening to make your morning coffee even more expensive. 

What happened: Starbucks has developed new varieties of arabica coffee trees tailored to withstand the effects of climate change, the result of a decade-long effort to weather-proof their supply.

Businesses are getting worried about weight loss drugs

Diabetes-turned-weight-loss medications like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro—collectively known as GLP-1 drugs—may be shrinking more than just celebs’ waistlines. 

Driving the news: A growing number of companies are worried that mass adoption of the drugs, which work by suppressing people’s desire to eat and drink, will be bad for their bottom line and could lead to a general drop in consumption. 

Canada could crack down on Airbnb

A new crop of rental units complete with “Live, Laugh, Love” signs, hotel lobby artwork, and a baffling array of cutlery could soon be making their way to a city near you.

Driving the news: The federal government is considering measures to encourage cities to limit the supply of Airbnbs as part of its effort to increase the availability of long-term rentals across the country, per The Globe and Mail.

What to do this weekend

Our picks for what to eat, read, watch, and listen to this weekend.

Cordell Jacks on Canada’s looming succession wave

On this week’s episode of Free Lunch by The Peak, we chatted with Cordell Jacks, CEO and General Partner of The Regenerative Capital Group, to discuss the oncoming retirement wave of small-to-medium-sized business owners and how entrepreneurs can capitalize on it. 

European cities are cracking down on over-tourism

Soon, you’ll have to decide if seeing the Venice canals is worth the price of admission. 

Driving the news: Next year, Venice will become the first city to start charging an entrance fee for day-tripping tourists to ease overcrowding during the city’s busiest days, per The Globe and Mail. The fee aims to disincentivize tourists from visiting on 30-40 peak days.

The UK’s radical anti-smoking gambit

The British government wants to make smoking a thing of the past in the UK, alongside lions (that once roamed the land) and its EU membership.

Driving the news: The UK is proposing a new law that would make it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009. This would effectively raise the legal smoking age by one year every year until, eventually, nobody would be allowed to smoke. 

Canadian rental listings are really something else

Two years ago, $2,000 could get you a long way in Canada’s major cities: We’re talking floor-to-ceiling windows, indoor swimming pools, and desirable downtown locations… these days, it’s all about staircase living and shared bedrooms. So, what happened?

Per CTV, the increasingly limited housing supply across the country is causing both developers and tenants to try and make the most of their space. All of it. But some of the arrangements are so unconventional that they’re starting to draw backlash online.

Grocers agree to freeze prices

As some Canadians prepping for Thanksgiving come face-to-face with $120 turkeys, the government is asking big grocers to do something, anything, to lower food prices. 

What happened: The feds announced that Canada’s five biggest grocers — Loblaw, Metro, Empire, Walmart, and Costco — committed to several actions that will lower prices, including price freezes for “key food products” (exact foodstuffs were unspecified) and price matching. 

BlackBerry cuts itself in half

BlackBerry just booted up the ol’ Bold 9700 and sent a heartfelt break-up text… to itself.  

What happened: BlackBerry announced its splitting into two separate public companies next March as it looks to stoke new investor interest and chart a clearer path forward. 

Inflation's toll on Canadian Thanksgiving

Ham, yams, the fam, and the inflation slam – yes, it’s Thanksgiving this weekend.

Or, in other words, while turkeys are getting stuffed, your wallets are not. 

Driving the news: Grocery bills had increased by an average of 6.8% at the end of summer compared to August 2022, so go easy on the gravy train this weekend. One Toronto Redditor recently reported finding an oven-roasted turkey for $119.99 and other birds for $59.99.

Meta’s news block is hurting small outlets

Two months into Meta’s Canadian news block, small-time publishers are feeling the pinch.

Driving the news: Meta’s decision to block news content for Canadian users across its platforms has disproportionately affected small online publishers, per The Wall Street Journal, as they depend more on social media traffic than larger legacy outlets.

AI-generated ads are coming

If there’s ever a modern-day Mad Men reboot, it’ll likely feature less cigarette smoking and whiskey drinking, and more inputting prompts into chatbots.

What happened: Meta has begun rolling out AI ad-generation tools to advertisers across its platforms, allowing ad creators to generate backgrounds, automatically adjust creative assets to fit different types of posts, and create and edit multiple versions of ad copy.