Lifestyle

Winners & Losers: Who's up, who's down

Shawn Graham, George Cope, Netflix, Adobe and more.

?Shawn Graham
Politics

Once thought to be a coming man in Liberal politics, Shawn Graham and his majority government were soundly defeated in the recent New Brunswick election by David Alward’s Progressive Conservatives. Under Graham’s leadership, interesting ideas were kicked around Fredericton — he earned national attention for exploring reforms to shift the burden from corporate and income taxes to consumption taxes, and he made tax reduction a key part of the province’s stimulus package. But he offered a definitive lesson in how governments defeat themselves with his utter failure on the NB Power file. An agreement to sell the Crown utility to Hydro-Qu?bec angered many New Brunswickers on principle, and when the deal surprisingly collapsed earlier this year, the rest were angered by their government’s incompetence. It was Graham’s signature mistake. Though he’ll continue to sit as an MLA, the former premier greeted news of his defeat with a decision to stand down from front-bench politics, and now seems destined for the same political black hole that swallowed Bernard Lord. Graham will go down in history as the head of New Brunswick’s first one-term government since Confederation.

?Sex workers
Adult services

An Ontario Superior Court judge struck down Criminal Code provisions that sex workers say forced them to operate in secret and endangered their safety. The justice ruled certain provisions, like a ban on keeping a common bawdy house, violated women’s rights to freedom of expression and security of the person. If the ruling stands, prostitutes say they will be free to operate from their homes and hire bodyguards.

?Giant Tiger
Retail

The discount retail chain admitted it made a mistake when it advertised thongs branded with the Playboy logo in a back-to-school flyer. The Playboy gear, which also included bras and hot pants, was sold as “junior girls” attire. The company apologized after receiving complaints from about 30 parents.

?Boys in Concert
Entertainment

Frankie Valli says he’ll drop the suit he filed earlier this year against four former members of the Broadway hit Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, as long as they change their name within 30 days. According to Valli, “the Boys in Concert” uses copyrighted logos and stage elements to pass for an authorized road show affiliated with the much-loved musical.

?Geir Haarde
Finance

Iceland’s parliament voted to refer the ex-prime minister to a special court that will decide whether he should face a trial for his role in failing to prevent the country’s financial collapse. Haarde, who stepped down last year amid protests, could be sentenced to two years in prison if convicted. He says he will be “vindicated” by the court, and that his actions did not cause the financial system to implode.

?Zong Qinghou
Entertainment

China’s beverage magnate is now the wealthiest man in the country, according to the Hurun Rich List. Qinghou, with a net worth of US$12 billion, is the founder of the Hangzhou Wahaha Group, overseeing some 30,000 employees. Qinghou knocked Wang Chuanfu, chairman of auto company BYD, from the top spot.

?Eugene Melnyk
Pharmaceuticals

Despite opposition from company founder Eugene Melnyk, Biovail has ditched its name and merged with California-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Shareholders of the Canadian drug maker ignored warnings from Melnyk, who sold most of his stake in the company earlier this year. Calling it “a tragedy and a travesty,” he claims the corporate marriage will cost an unconscionable number of jobs and collapse under huge debt.

?Ozone
Environment

It’s on the comeback trail, say UN scientists. They credit the halt in the ozone layer’s thinning to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which led to the phasing out of chlorofluorocarbons. And while the atmosphere’s ozone levels aren’t yet increasing, they’re expected to soon, returning to 1980 levels as soon as 2045.

?George Cope
Philanthropy

The Bell Canada CEO received kudos for stepping up the fight against impaired mental health, the major cause of short- and long-term disability in Canada. While issuing a call to action to other business leaders last month, Cope announced Bell will donate an unprecedented $50 million to mental health charities.

?Netflix
Entertainment

The video streaming service organized a massive event in Toronto to announce its Canadian debut. But many in the crowd were actors hired to pose as enthusiastic Netflix fans if approached by journalists. The company’s vice-president of corporate communications, Steve Swasey, later apologized on the firm’s blog. “Simply put: we blew it,” he wrote.

?Adobe
Technology

Adobe shares fell 20% — hitting a 52-week low of $25.81 — when the company announced its sales and earnings for the coming quarter will be short of expectations. But this dark cloud follows news that Apple will be easing its restrictions on what programming tools it allows for app development — good news for Adobe’s previously shut out Flash.

?Ecuador
Geopolitics

In late September, rank-and-file police officers and soldiers marched in protest against the Ecuadorean government’s new civil-service bill, which could have affected their pay; but there are two accounts of what happened next. President Rafael Correa claims it was a coup attempt. The opposition, however, says Correa is misrepresenting the strike to rally his flagging support. If so, it’s an unsurprising move from this confrontational leader — but either way, the country and its people suffer.

?Nigel Wright
Politics

The senior executive at private equity firm Onex is leaving Bay Street for Ottawa to become Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s new chief of staff. Wright takes over the influential post from Guy Giorno. Observers say Wright’s appointment signals closer ties between Bay Street and government.

?Nintendo
Entertainment

The video game company’s biggest product launch since the Wii in 2006 will be delayed until 2011, missing the vital holiday season. Its pricey new 3-D handheld system, the 3DS, was announced in March, and was expected to underpin a big year for Nintendo. In the wake of the delay, the Japanese firm has cut its net profit forecast for this financial year by more than half.