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Two major Canadian political players left the game this month, with a third rumored to be heading to the sidelines, too. Veterans gathered on Parliament Hill. And Canada is about to become victim to a homegrown version of MTV’s Jersey Shore. But Canadians are taking it all in stride, because their favorite coffee-and-donut chain has given in and will now accept debit cards.
There’s an empty seat in the federal cabinet after Environment Minister Jim Prentice stepped down to take an executive position with CIBC, one of the country's biggest banks. Pundits wonder whether this is a retirement from public life or a prelude to a run for party leadership. Gordon Campbell, the premier of British Columbia, also announced his intention to step down, amid a popularity rating of just 9 percent, the result of his championing of the controversial harmonized sales tax in the province.
Meanwhile, Federal Defense Minister Peter MacKay was spotted in a Fly Emirates hat while he waited outside parliament during a fire alarm. This nod to the Arab airline further fueled speculation that last month's Camp Mirage debacle created a rift in the Conservative cabinet, and that MacKay is on his way to the private sector.But MacKay insists he has “the best job in the world” and isn't going anywhere.
It's MacKay's defense portfolio that should have been center stage this month. A last-minute policy change announced by the Conservative government has extended the Canadian mission in Afghanistan past the planned July 2011 pullout. Canadian forces will stay on in the country in a non-combat, training role.
The extension was announced at a time when all eyes were on veterans for Remembrance Day. But Nov. 11 wasn't all poppies and quiet reflection this year. The Saturday before, veterans staged a Canadian first — a veterans' day of protest. Vets returning from Afghanistan are unhappy with the disability compensation and pension benefits offered in the New Veterans Charter. A $2 billion version that addresses their concerns has since been unveiled.
But the biggest controversy of the month came via the Senate, Canada's unelected upper house of parliament. Tory senators, sitting as a majority, killed a climate change bill passed by the elected officials in the House of Commons. The bill would have held the country to its international obligations on targets. This unusual occurrence has renewed calls for Senate reform. Handily, there is just such a bill before the House of Commons, although the opposition parties say it is flawed.
Australia's BHP Billiton walked away from their controversial takeover bid for Canada's Potash Corp., without even a second attempt. When Industry Minister Tony Clement rejected the offer in October, the company by law had 30 days to sweeten the offer and try again. But a new proposal never came. Investors are now calling for clarification from the government on the rules that govern takeover decisions.
Jim Shaw, CEO of Shaw Communications, abruptly resigned this month after what was reported to be an inebriated and inappropriate lunch with investors. (The company denies the reports.) Shaw had been planning to hand the reins over to his brother Brad Shaw in the New Year; now he'll have the Christmas holidays free, too.
But it's telecommunications giant Rogers that really had a bad month. The company faces a $10 million fine over a “misleading” advertising campaign in which it claimed it had fewer dropped calls than other networks. The Competition Bureau of Canada says that, based on data collected, this claim has no merit.
Move over “Canadian Idol,” “Canada's Next Top Model” and “So You Think You Can Dance Canada.” The latest reality show concept to capitalize on American trends is “Lake Shore,” modeled on MTV's “Jersey Shore.” “Lake Shore” released its promotional trailer this month, introducing viewers to the loud-mouthed 20-somethings who will party together in Toronto for fame and fortune. The show's official website crashed from the traffic the preview generated.
November finished on a win for Canadians with the announcement from Tim Horton's – a coffee-and-donut national treasure – that it will finally accept debit card payment. Until now, Canada's biggest chain restaurant was cash-only, in the interest of speedy service.