Lifestyle

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

Kory Teneycke, the Great Lakes, the Tea Party and more.

?Kory Teneycke
Media

Earlier this summer, the 36-year-old brashly promised to take on “bland and boring” journalism as he announced plans for Sun TV, a right-wing cable channel bankrolled by Quebecor. Three months later, Teneycke resigned his position as VP of business development, conceding his polarizing involvement with the nascent media property was damaging its chances for success. Teneycke, a former lobbyist and spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, had delighted in mocking what he called the “lame-stream” media. “Our aim is not to bore people to death,” he said at the Sun TV launch. “We’ll leave that to the CBC.” But his combative personality, and his Conservative ties, quickly proved a liability. There were allegations of political interference as Sun TV lobbied for a broadcast licence that would require cable companies to offer the channel as an option. And there were questions about how Teneycke knew phony names had been added to an online petition against his company, given that the names were never published. In his resignation, Teneycke concede the debate had become “vicious and vitriolic.” Seeming chastened, he added, “I have contributed to debasing the debate myself.”

? Goldman Sachs
Finance

Goldman Sachs was slapped with a small but embarrassing US$27-million fine by Britain’s Financial Services Authority. It earned the penalty for failing to inform the FSA when, earlier this year, it faced civil fraud charges levelled by Uncle Sam’s market regulator over the marketing of complex mortgage products. In July, Goldman struck a deal with the SEC to settle the charges with a $550-million fine, the largest penalty ever paid by a Wall Street firm.

?Bing
Technology

Derided on launch as another doomed attempt by Microsoft to figure out “this Internet thing all the kids are talking about,” the search engine is finally finding some traction. Nielsen reported that Bing has overtaken Yahoo in search volume, and while comScore’s numbers still put Yahoo ahead, it’s at least a sign that Bing has to be taken seriously.

?The Great Lakes
Environment

Statistics Canada reports that southern Canada’s fresh-water yield — made up of precipitation and melting ice — is declining by 8.5%, or the equivalent of 3.5 cubic kilometres, a year. Since the Great Lakes account for one-fifth of the world’s fresh water, experts say if this trend doesn’t change, some Canadian regions could feel the effects of diminished supply within the next couple of generations.

?Canadian banks
Finance

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions released the country’s major banks from restrictions implemented two years ago during the height of the financial crisis. Banks are now free to raise dividends, buy back shares and make large acquisitions.

?Suncor
Energy

The oilsands giant is facing fines of up to $4.5 million after Alberta Environment charged Suncor for allowing stormwater runoff to enter the Athabasca River, violating its water licence. The department also accused Suncor of providing misleading information about water run-off. Suncor says the water discharge resulted in no environmental damage, and that it did not intentionally mislead the provincial regulator.

?Arctic Glacier
Finance

The Winnipeg-based income trust’s U.S. subsidiary agreed to pay US$350,000 over the coming months to settle antitrust charges. The Michigan attorney general alleged the company conspired with a competitor to charge inflated prices for blocks and bags of ice to customers in southeastern Michigan. Arctic Glacier admitted no wrongdoing, but previously entered a plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice on related charges.

?Lansbridge
Education

The province of New Brunswick recently announced that Lansbridge University, an online school with headquarters in Fredericton, has lost its licence to grant degrees. Reviews by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission concluded the school, which enrols roughly 200 students, was “significantly substandard.” Lansbridge officials were surprised, saying the school has made improvements previously requested by the government.

?Old Spice Guy
Marketing

At this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards, the Old Spice Guy, played by former football player Isaiah Mustafa, took home the Emmy for Outstanding Commercial. This on the heels of receiving the Film Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, ending the campaign on a high note and leaving us all wanting more.

?Tea Party
Politics

It may be tempting to dismiss the U.S. Tea Party movement as a small group of right-wing extremists with little power or influence. But as the November mid-term elections approach, these angry outliers are gaining momentum: in September, the group added GOP nomination victories in Delaware and New York to its growing list of triumphs over more centrist Republican opponents.

?Enbridge
Energy

The energy and pipeline empire suffered another pipeline leak, this one discovered on Sept. 9 in Romeoville, Ill. Enbridge says it involved “a limited amount of oil,” which has since been cleaned up. This follows a spill at a pumping station in Marshall, Mich., in July, which Enbridge estimates released 19,500 barrels of crude. Citing the two incidents, the U.S. Department of Transportation proposed new legislation aimed at improving regulation and raising penalties for infractions.

?RIM
Technology

The BlackBerry maker surprised investors and analysts by turning in a record quarter at a time when competition from Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android operating platform are causing many to question RIM’s longevity. RIM beat analyst expectations, with US$4.6 billion in sales, up 31% from the same quarter last year. On the downside, RIM signed on only 4.5 million new subscribers, down 8% from the last quarter, and below even the company’s expectations.

?HBO
Entertainment

Programs like True Blood are still earning the cable network plaudits and press, but its 28.6 million U.S. subscribers in 2010’s second quarter is its lowest total in four years, and represents the first time in six its base has eroded in back-to-back quarters. A standoff with DirecTV may be partly to blame.

?Mega Brands
Toys

The toy maker has won the right to keep manufacturing its bestselling product: plastic interlocking blocks. The decision comes from a European Court ruling that says Lego Group cannot hold a 3-D trademark over its iconic plastic pieces. Lego Group says it will continue to dispute the ruling, and reports that between 40% to 60% of consumers believe that Mega Brands blocks are made by Lego.