HicksBiz Blog

Category: Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz: Alberta can tackle social programs because of strong economic bedrock By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, July 6, 2018

Edmonton skylineJason Franson / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS On Canada Day, Alberta’s news reports were all about righting wrongs from Canada’s past, be it racism, mistreatment of First Nations peoples, gender inequality, LGBTQ pride and acceptance. These are all fine causes worthy of our attention. But what is sometimes lost is that the ability of our province to devote so much to sociological/cultural issues rests on a solid economic bedrock and a high standard of living. Without far-sighted decisions made in the past, Alberta’s economy would be nowhere close to what it is today. Let’s celebrate, and teach our children, about the historical choices and people that have made Edmonton and Northern Alberta one of the most materially prosperous places on Earth. On my list would be: The building of Fort Edmonton:  If the Hudson’s Bay Company hadn’t built Fort Edmonton (1795 to 1891), Edmonton wouldn’t be here in the first place. The Cana ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Goodbye Edmonton, hello region By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun June 29, 2018

Edmonton City Hall.David Bloom / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS It’s one thing for politicians to defend tax increases as a necessary evil, to fund services being demanded by the citizenry. But then there’s a reality called the free market. Invisible political boundaries surround the City of Edmonton. Step across that boundary into Sturgeon, Strathcona, Leduc or Parkland counties. Magically, industrial land prices drop by a half or more.  Ongoing business property taxes check in at 50% less than in Edmonton’s industrial parks. When existing companies expand or modernize, they are moving out of Edmonton to the major industrial parks in municipalities surrounding  the city — the Nisku and Leduc business parks, Parkland’s massive Acheson business park butting up against the city’s western boundary, Strathcona and Sturgeon counties for heavy industry. Last year, needing to expand, Ford’s Western Canadian distribution centre left its building ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta's carbon tax nonsense By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun June 22, 2018

Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci.Gavin Young / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS So the Alberta carbon tax is now in its second year of implementation. So far, it is doing next to nothing toward achieving this government’s extraordinarily expensive Climate Leadership Plan goals. So far, it is, as respected University of Calgary economic Jack Mintz says, just another “government tax-and-spend slush fund.” This tax is a miserable failure. It is adding dramatically to the cost of gas at the pump – 6.73 cents per litre hidden within the overall price per litre – without producing results. Vehicle dealerships are not reporting a dramatic shift from SUVs to sub-compacts. Most individuals cannot dramatically reduce their miles travelled. Gasoline sales have not dropped. It’s an especially cruel tax on home heating. It’s not like any home owner today can further renovate to  reduce the amount of natural gas used to heat our homes.  From Jan ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta NDP not an utter failure — here's why By GRAHAM HICKS first published Edmonton Sun, June 15, 2018

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is applauded at a press conference after speaking about the Kinder Morgan pipeline project, in Edmonton on Tuesday, May 29, 2018.Jason Franson / The Canadian Press By GRAHAM HICKS While admitting such may cause gagging and vomiting among those opposed to the current Alberta government, our moderate socialists have done a few good things. Ten good things about the Rachel Notley New Democrat government of Alberta. 1. Rachel Notley herself: In three years, Notley has built a remarkable reputation. Even the opposition leaders agree she is fair, principled, honest and hard-working. Her unequivocal support for the Trans Mountain pipeline has earned the grudging respect of the oil/gas industry. If the New Dems are re-elected next year, she’ll be the main reason why 2. Health Minister/Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman’s amazing statement – for a socialist – that money for social programs doesn’t grow on trees. Commenting on the western premiers&r ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: That Edmonton airport bus service By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, June 8, 2018

The ETS bus to Edmonton International Airport shown at the start of service in 2012.Bruce Edwards / Bruce Edwards By GRAHAM HICKS The ETS (Edmonton Transit Service) 747 bus route – from the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Century Park southern terminal to the Edmonton International Airport – is an evidence-based, practical measurement of the city/region/provincial commitment to urban transportation, tourism, and general efficiency. Any city worth its salt has user-friendly, inexpensive and modern public transit between its airport and downtown. Toronto is a North American leader for airport-to-downtown options. The very modern and efficient UP Train leaves every 15 minutes and provides 25-minute service from Pearson International to the downtown Union Station transport hub. The $12 fare ($6 for seniors and students) is heavily subsidized. Or, for $3.25, you can take a regular Toronto bus from the airport to the Kipling subway station, hence to downtown – about an hour and a b ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: The bureaucratic delight of cannabis regulation By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, June 1, 2018

NewLeaf Cannabis is one of a number of companies that plan to open locations in Edmonton.AL Charest / Al Charest/Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS (Third of a three-part series on the ramifications of legal pot) So it was Saturday night on the acreage. Around the campfire a few joints were circulating. Your pals in halter-tops, tank-tops and ball caps were talking about the impending legalization of pot. Hey, they said, blinded by their brilliance. Let’s open a pot shop! I suppose … if among your pals was a lawyer, an accountant, a government-relations expert, a cannabis expert, a realtor, a seasoned retailer and plenty of investors. In reality, this horse has long left the barn.  The regulations surrounding the upcoming growing, distribution and selling of pot in Alberta are so complicated and laborious that amateurs need not apply — regulations by the federal government, regulations from the provincial government through the Alberta Gambling Liquor Cannabis ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: This gold rush is green By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, May 25, 2018

Trays of newly introduced mother plants at the Aurora Sky facility on February 5, 2018 at the Edmonton International Airport. Shaughn Butts / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS (Second of a three-part series on the ramifications of legal pot) Welcome to the green gold rush. In just a few months, Canada will be the first developed country in the world to fully legalize the growth, distribution and consumption of all cannabis products. A Deloitte study suggests recreational marijuana sales alone could be as high as $8.7 billion per year in Canada – like the sale of all alcoholic beverages (besides beer), and that’s just a start. Add all the support business (security, transport, processing, research) and the potential economic impact “approaches $23 billion.” Everybody’s speculating in this market which, other than medical marijuana, has yet to sell a penny of government-approved pot. The numbers around Aurora Cannabis, soon moving its headquarters from V ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: On legalized weed, sky-high's the limit for consumption options By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN May 18, 2018

File.Getty Images By GRAHAM HICKS Baby, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Pot – marijuana, cannabis – will be legalized in Canada in a matter of months. Over a few pints of our current mood-altering drug of choice, the old guys’ drinking club was discussing whether we’d try pot again, once it was legal.  In the late ‘60s, we took a toke or two … maybe a thousand. But that was 40 years ago! To a one, we said no thanks, not at this point in our lives. Nathan Mison, VP of stakeholder relations for the Edmonton-based future marijuana retailer Fire & Flower, gives a wry chuckle. Mison’s point?  The unwashed Canadian public hasn’t the least notion how wide-ranging the uses, and choices, of recreational, medical and therapeutic cannabis will be. “Let’s start with two active cannabis ingredients, CBD – cannabidiol oil – and THC – tetrahydrocannabinol,” says Nathan.  “THC gets you ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: ATB's Dave Mowat — Yes he did! By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, May 11, 2018

ATB Financial president Dave Mowat.Codie McLachlan / Codie McLachlan/Edmonton Sun By GRAHAM HICKS Dave Mowat has been ATB Financial’s CEO and President since 2007. Retiring in June, Mowat is unarguably Alberta’s best-known and most visible CEO. Mowat is that rarest of beasts:  A well-liked, amiable, even humble corporate and community leader, yet likely the most dynamic CEO that ATB, a venerable government-owned financial institution, has ever seen. ATB Financial’s marketing department took advantage of Mowat’s media-friendly personality.  His smiling mug advertised ATB’s services in newspapers, billboards, TV and all over social media. Who can forget Dave smiling at the camera, pointing his finger and saying “Who banks on Alberta’s future? We Do!” Most of ATB Financial’s excellent long-term performance (from $20.3 billion in assets in 2007 to $49.6 billion in 2018, from 600,000 to 750,000 customers, currently 5,000 employ ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Is Big Oil slip-sliding away in Alberta? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN: May 4, 2018

Stacks from the Petro-Canada Refinery rise above the Enbridge Oil Tank Farm in Sherwood Park, Ab.Colleen De Neve / Calgary Herald, file By GRAHAM HICKS There will be no dramatic cleaning out of Enbridge or TransCanada’s Calgary corporate headquarters, no fleet of moving vans heading down the American I-25 highway in a near straight line from Calgary through Denver to Houston. But until Canadian governments realize wealth creation is as important as the environment,  gender imbalance and social justice, Alberta’s major pipeline building companies will slip-slide away to the U.S. It won’t be dramatic. It never is. Corporations don’t want bad-news headlines. But Enbridge and TransCanada build pipelines. Major pipelines are not being built in Canada. Pipelines are being built in the U.S. Funny thing about doing business.  You go where the work is. Both TransCanada and Enbridge are going where the work is, via major acquisitions. In 2016, TransCan ... Read the rest of entry »