Lifestyle

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

Tim Hortons, Jim Prentice, Google Maps and more.

?Tim Hortons
Food

Tim Hortons may be an iconic part of this country’s landscape, but the same can’t be said south of the border. On Nov. 10, Tim Hortons CEO Don Schroeder announced the company’s decision to close 54 locations across New England, the first marketplace withdrawal for Canada’s largest fast-food chain. Shutting down these shops will cost Tim Hortons up to $50 million, but the effected stores have already cost $4.4 million this year, and have begun to cast a shadow over accomplishments in more profitable states. The company admits that its coffee and snacks aren’t going to be for everyone, and that there obviously are limits to how far the Tim Hortons brand can extend. The chain has seen great success in other areas of the U.S., including parts of New York, Michigan and Ohio, but in Maine, Rhode Island and Connecticut, the competition from chains like McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts is too fierce. By eliminating 36 restaurants and 18 kiosk locations in New England, Tim Hortons hopes to cut its losses and reinvest in areas where the brand has proven to be a bigger player. Schroeder says the company plans to open 300 new stores in the northeast and Midwest U.S. over the next three years.

?Jonathan Duhamel
Poker

Jonathan Duhamel’s mother concedes that when he dropped out of McGill University at 19 to pursue poker full-time, she was concerned. “It’s not something safe,” she recently explained. But her son’s recent victory should help to allay her fears. In October, Duhamel, 23, became the first Canadian to win the main event of the World Series of Poker, pocketing nearly $9 million.

?Royal Bank
Finance

Size matters, especially in banking, where executives love growing operations, organically and via acquisitions. But nobody in the industry likes the attention that comes from posing risks to the world’s financial system. And Royal Bank of Canada is now large enough to be mentioned when global financial authorities talk about international banks being “too big to fail.”

?Wind Mobile
Telecommunications

The wireless upstart recently saw its subscriber count surge 49% over the previous quarter to 140,000. While the boost is impressive, Wind will have to pick up the pace if it’s going to meet its goal of 1.5 million subscribers by the end of 2012.

?The border
Trade

A multi-billion-dollar project to prevent North America’s busiest trade gateway from getting congested by infrastructure issues has been sideswiped by U.S. politics. With a Republican set to take back the governor’s mansion in Michigan, a vote required to move forward on a long-delayed new bridge between Windsor and Detroit has been put off, and project insiders say the outcome is now uncertain.

?Taseko Mines
Mining

Outgoing Environment Minister Jim Prentice blocked Taseko’s proposed open-pit copper-gold mine at Fish Lake, B.C., on environmental grounds. Overruling the provincial government’s earlier green light, Prentice agreed with a federal review panel that the mine’s tailings would destroy the lake and surrounding ecosystem. Taseko expressed disappointment, fired 65 workers and vowed to continue discussions with government “to identify how we might advance the project.”

?RIM
Technology

Shares in the BlackBerry maker fell more than 2% when it was reported that Dell plans to replace its 25,000 corporate BlackBerry devices with its own Venue Pro smartphone to save costs. RIM accused Dell of seeking free publicity.

?Big tobacco
Tobacco

The federal government has put a set of new, more jarring Health Canada warning labels for cigarette packages on hold. But while Canada drags its feet, the U.S. FDA will roll out a revised campaign, meant to reduce deaths caused by tobacco use. Many countries review and change cigarette warnings every two years, but Canada hasn’t done so in about a decade.

?Google Maps
Technology

Based on Google Maps cartography, a Nicaraguan military commander led a small band of troops across the Costa Rican border, took down the Costa Rican flag and proudly replaced it with their own. Unfortunately for the commander, the Google map was wrong. After looking into the matter, the search giant apologized and admitted the map was off by as much as 2.7 kilometres in some areas.

?Jim Prentice
Politics

As soft landings go, few are cushier than a senior executive’s office at a Big Five bank. In the New Year, the former cabinet minister will assume a vice-chairman’s title at CIBC, where he’ll be well-compensated for his Rolodex and his public policy nous. If in a few years Prentice decides he wants to return to the House of Commons, he’ll have more money, more contacts and more credibility.

?Waiting rooms
Publishing

In an effort to thwart the spread of disease and infection, Women’s College Hospital in Toronto has banned communal reading material. Waiting patients are free to bring in their own books and magazines, as long as they take them home with them. Although there is no empirical evidence that magazines spread infection, the hospital sees the move as a preventative measure.

?Amazon
Retail

The online bookseller outraged customers by initially refusing to remove the e-book The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure from its site, saying it opposed censorship. The book disappeared from the site only after it faced threats of a boycott.

?Brad Wall
Politics

In campaigning against the sale of Potash Corp. to BHP Billiton, the Saskatchewan premier created a political environment in which Industry Canada had little choice but to block the deal, raising his national profile in the process. According to one polling agency, Wall’s approval rating has jumped more than six points in the province compared to his rating upon election in 2007.

?Conan O’Brien
Entertainment

Conan O’Brien beat the competition his first night back in the talk-show game — despite his move to basic cable network TBS. His 2.8 Nielsen rating trumped the 2.7 of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show and the 2.5 of David Letterman’s Late Show. While his competitors regained some ground through the rest of the week, O’Brien continues to lead the rating among young viewers.