Category Archives: Opinions

UPDATED: IT Teacher in Quebec? You Might Need To Choose Between Your Religion or Your Job

UPDATE: The bill has now passed and is officially a law in the province of Quebec. Quebec’s bill 21 is the only jurisdiction in North America with a religion-based dress code, meaning you can fired for religious attire you wear to work. Quebec has also included a clause where so called “securalism police” will check in on work place to make sure no religious attire is worn, and “the targeted employee could be subject to disciplinary measures for failing to comply.” Hélène David, the Liberal critic that was against the horrendous bill in Quebec, said “It’s a sad day.”


Quebec government has announced that they have tabled the secularism legislation bill soon to come into full force in Quebec.

Francois Legault’s Coalition Avenir Quebec government has declared that they will ban the wearing of religious symbols by public sector employees in position of authority, such as teachers, prosecutors, judges, and police officers.

Position of authority is defined as the power to tell the other person what to do.

That means when the bill becomes a law, and you decide to apply to work for the Quebec government in the position of authority, such as teachers, prosecutors, judges, or police officers – you will need to take off that kippa, turban, cross or hijab when showing up for work or risk losing a job.

Quebec Public Security Minister, Genevieve Guilbault, has announced that repercussions can be severe if you refuse to take off your religious garb. She said that:

“People can advise police services, like they do to have any other law applied. The law is the law.”

List of Quebec Public Sector Departments

  • Executive Council of Quebec
  • Secrétariat du Conseil du trésor
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
  • Ministry of Culture and Communications
  • Ministry of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade
  • Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sports
  • Ministry of Employment and Social Solidarity
  • Ministry of Families, Seniors and the Status of Women
  • Ministry of Finance
  • Ministry of Government Services
  • Ministry of Health and Social Services
  • Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Ministry of International Relations
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Ministry of Labour
  • Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Regions
  • Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife
  • Ministry of Public Security
  • Ministry of Revenue
  • Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks
  • Ministry of Tourism
  • Ministry of Transport
https://twitter.com/ramaswife/status/1111671284168122368

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, was taken aback by this populist decision by Quebec’s government saying:

It is unthinkable to me that in a free society, we would legitimize discrimination against citizens based on their religion.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer usually never sides with liberals but on this Bill 21 he openly disagreed with Quebec government:

“Our party will always defend individual freedoms. I think a liberal, a society based on fundamental freedoms and openness, must always protect fundamental individual rights and should not in any way impede people from expressing themselves and in any way by infringing on those fundamental rights.”

In response to criticism, Quebec’s Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness Minister Jolin-Barrette said.

“Quebec is a nation. No one contests this reality and our fundamental right to decide our own future and the orientations of our society.”

Bloc Quebecois, political party in Canada devoted to Quebec sovereignty, has also decided to send a message to people in Canada to mind their own business by renting out the following bill board and putting it in Ottawa, not too far from the Canadian parliament.

Quebec government announced that there is nothing to worry about and they will work with everyone involved to make sure everyone is satisfied. The bill also includes so called “grandfather clause,” which means that if you were an employee before May 28, 2019 this law does not apply to you.

So if you are starting a new job on May 29, 2019 or after in the public sector in Quebec and do not want to part with your religious garments you might be fired because of your religion.

Harvey Levine, executive director at Quebec Jewish association, said that the new bill is “an assault on the fundamental rights and freedoms of Quebecers.

So now you need to decide whether to keep wearing that kippa or support your family financially. Decisions, decisions…

The Mexican Fisherman Story, or How to Find Success in Your Life

After reading the “4 hour work week” book by Timothy Ferriss about a dozen years ago, this one story really resonated with us at PlanetWeb. It reflects the new mantra to be more with less, especially with business gurus like Gary Vaynerchuk who preaches his no nonsense “Love your family, work super hard, live your passion.” The story teaches you to ignore BS, live simply and do what matters most.

The Mexican fisherman story is about how you define success and what is important to you. So basically here is the story summarized.

American businessman went down to Mexico for some R&R and after waking up one morning decided to take a stroll on the beach. There he came across a lonely Mexican fisherman who was docking his boat with few beautiful recently caught yellowfin tuna.

Meditations / Pixabay

American complimented the Mexican on his fish and asked how long it took him to catch the fish. To which the Mexican replied – “Not that long.” American was surprised – he said why do not you stay longer and catch more fish, Mexican replied that it was enough to feed his family.

American was confused now. He asked Mexican – what do you do with the rest of your time?

The Mexican replied: “I sleep in late. I play with my kids.  I have some fiesta with my wife, and at night I play some music with my amigos.”

The American now was pretty upset. He said Common My Mexican Friend – You catching some amazing fish. I went to Harvard so I know a thing or two about business. You should fish more, so you can afford a bigger boat. After you get a bigger boat , get more people to help you fish, maybe buy more boats, then you will have enough volume to sell directly to the buyer vs using middleman as you are doing now. You can now even open up your own fish processing plant and an office in Mexico City, then in Los Angeles and maybe even New York one day.

Mexican was not getting it: “But how long will all this take?”

American: “20-25 years”

Mexican: “And what then?”

American excitedly: “The best part is. Now you will be big enough to launch your company on New York Stock Exchange. And You will be millionaire!”

Mexican: “Millions and then what?”

American:”Well my friend. Thats the best part. Then you will retire, move to a small Mexican village, where you can sleep, fish a little, play with your children, have siesta with your wife and play some music with your amigos.”

The moral of the story is “Know what’s important in life – you may already have it.”

The 5 important take aways we need to take from this story are:

  1. Time is of the essence: enjoy life now, enjoy hanging out with you kids, wife, friends before it is too late.
  2. No need for more shit: at the end of the day, do what you love, do not do it for cash, do it because you enjoy it.
  3. Smaller is better: Do you really need that expensive car or that big boat. Sometimes living simpler life means enjoying it more without having to worry about all those lease payments.
  4. Story is Powerful: Stories make people think about what matters most. Share with the world who you are and what you have to say.
  5. You already have it all: You should realize every day that you already have it all and so much better off than many other generations before you. Enjoy it!

See What Facebook Knows About You

Whether you love it or hate it, Facebook is here to stay. With recent controversy of Facebook selling user data – it is mind boggling how much Internet knows about us and that info is not going away anywhere soon either.

But it is probably a good idea to review what companies like Facebook know about you. Here is how to access it.

In just a few easy steps you can download your whole history from Facebook and review all the photos, comments and phone calls Facebook has on you.

joffi / Pixabay

Since you have signed up, Facebook has been diligent with collecting and keeping everything you have done on their site. Remember all those high school conversations with your sweetheart or those private videos and pictures  you have shared as well as documents.

Facebook knows it all. Sometimes it knows you even better than you know yourself. The big brother.

So in case you want to go through megabytes after megabytes of data Facebook has on you – follow the following steps.

How to Download Your Facebook Private Data

Step 1: Click on top right of Facebook page

Step 2: Select Settings

Step 3: Click on “Download a copy of your Facebook data” below your General Account Settings, and confirm with green button.

It will take you between few minutes to few hours for Facebook to send you your zipped file with all the data it knows about you.

Even if you only use Facebook from time to time, you will be surprised on what you can find in there.

 

Where You Book Your Vacation From Matters

On a recent vacation search, one of our employees have decided to go down to Riviera Maya for a much needed rest. After searching through multiple reviews on Tripadvisor, he has came upon a wonderful resort of Grand Palladium in Riviera Maya.

Problem started when he started booking it, he got a price different from his wife’s travelling in England at that time even though both of them looked at the same hotel , same room , same dates.

A Big Difference

The difference was over $300 Canadian for each room. Because they were travelling with another couple and 2 kids, the savings went into over $1,000 difference for all them. So it does matter where you book from.

Booking Grand Colonial from Berkshire, England

Booking Grand Colonial from Toronto, Canada

 

A Travel Bug?

MustangJoe / Pixabay

We wondered if this was an error and went asking different people whether they had the same issue – Jason (last name redacted as per request) from Saskatchewan wrote to us in an email with a similar issue:

“Yeah.. I booked once from France, and then again a week later from London (cancelling the first booking as my dates were wrong). The total came out about the same. 2 weeks for like $4500 USD I think it was, for 4 of us. A travel agent here in Saskatoon was getting a price over $7000 CAD, or about $6100 USD, which is the price I got when I VPN’s through my home office in Saskatoon. Exact save everything – $4500 USD when going to their site from Europe vs $6100 USD when visiting from Canada.

The reason I cancelled and rebooked to change the dates was that I had free cancellation, and on contacting their reservations team to change the dates, they said they could only do it by changing the rate back to what I was quoted when visiting their site from Canada. This just to shift our days by one. So I went and cancelled and rebooked. Nothing was said when we checked it in. $1600 USD is a large difference. If anything, I thought it would be cheaper from Canada where our dollar for income takes us less far on an international basis.”

Not just Hotels – Airlines Also

dariolafelicia / Pixabay

If you are booking a flight, it is always advantageous to book from inside the country where you are flying to. It works when you are booking domestic flight in that country specifically vs outside.

Below quote and price comparison is taken from:  http://maphappy.org/

Take a look when we search of a flight to Ho Chi Minh City from Hong Kong. The normal pricing for this route is around $300, give or take. Frustratingly, I kept landing on the Hong Kong version of the United website, with price estimations at over $700 after figuring in the exchange rate. This was definitely more than what I wanted to pay, so I jumped on to the U.S. version of the site. Things got a little more affordable: the price dropped down to below $300. Sometimes the price difference isn’t this dramatic; sometimes you just end up saving a few dollars here or there. To test how prices differ, I ran a search for the exact route just now testing the French, British and American versions of the website, using the same dates. The small differences are palpable:

Lesson learned, where you book from can end up saving you and your family thousands of dollars. Beware!

Not Available in Quebec or Quebec vs The World

Quebec prides itself on consumer protection so much so that the overzealous rules that they have in place make many companies decide to opt out of doing business in Quebec.

This is on top of French language regulations where if products are not translated into French you are not allowed to ship into Quebec (even if store ships from the US or rest of Canada).

Unfortunately, due to circumstances outside our control, Spotify is not currently able to offer Spotify Premium for Students in Quebec. We hope to be able to make it available in the future. Thanks for your understanding!

as well as

Premium for Students Download & listen offline On-demand music, no ads Skip any song, any time

This offer is unavailable in Quebec. I confirm that I am not a resident of the province of Quebec.

Protection du consommateur

It does not matter that companies collect local taxes and have apps in French and contribute millions of dollars. The Quebec “Protection du consommateur” consumer protection agency has rules that are very different from the rest of Canada and the US. These rules are costing companies millions of dollars if not followed.

Look at recent class action lawsuit filed by Stephanie J. Benabu domiciled in Quebec, she has brought action suit against AMAZON.COM LLC, AUDIBLE, INC., APPLE INC., LINKEDIN IRELAND, GOOGLE INC., SHOMI PARTNERSHIP, ROGERS MEDIA INC., SHAW MEDIA INC., SIRIUS XM CANADA INC., SPOTIFY AB, AFFINITAS GMBH., et MATCH.COM LLP, and many others.

geralt / Pixabay

The law that they are breaking? Unknown to many international companies that are doing business in the US and open up in Canada (with Quebec included) is the following law that exists in Quebec:

Every consumer, pursuant to the terms of Quebec’s Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”), who since July 4th, 2013 (the “Class Period”), was provided services or goods free of charge, for a fixed period (the “Fixed Period”), by any of the Defendants, and who, after the Fixed Period, was required to send a notice to any of the Defendants indicating that he/she does not wish to obtain the services or goods at the regular price (the “Regular Price”).

Basically that means that companies are not allowed to give you free trial and then automatically convert you into a paying customer – that is against the law in Quebec. Quebec wants the world to respect their authority or else.

Spotify users have recently received messages like this to advise them of this class action suit in Quebec:

Dear user:

We are contacting you in accordance with a Quebec Superior Court judgment dated November 1, 2017 (File No: 500-06-000798-161) which has authorised a class action on behalf of Québec residents against Spotify and other companies for the purpose of a settlement and ordered that potential class members be contacted by email.

According to our records, you lived within the Province of Québec between July 4, 2013 and November 1, 2017 and, during this period, signed up for a free or discounted trial on Spotify.com and maintained your membership after the trial period was over. If our records are correct, please carefully read the linked notice of the class action proceeding and a proposal for the Court to approve a settlement with Spotify.

If approved by the Court, the proposed settlement will provide impacted customers who cancelled their subscription in the 30 days following the end of their free trial with a credit for one free month of Spotify Premium. In exchange, Spotify will be released from any claims related to the free or discounted trial offer. Details of the settlement approval are in the notice accessible by clicking here.

Thank you for being a Spotify user.

That is why so many companies are choosing to avoid doing business in Quebec and just write:

“Not available in Quebec.”

punttim / Pixabay

Who are at disadvantage? Users like benlandry5 who wrote:

Hi, I can’t find my school McGill University in the SheerId listen of student universities. My university is 100% a university and is one of the original ones and most well known one in Canada. Can you fix this? Best Benjamin

Spotify response:

Unfortunately, due to local circumstances, Spotify is not currently offering the Student Discount in Quebec.

These local circumstances are millions of dollars in lawsuit money that is hanging over their heads in the province of Quebec.

Not a big deal? Get big companies to adapt to Quebec

Some users do not understand what the big deal is. Law is the law they say. They say multinational companies need to smarten up when they enter “special” Quebec market:
Same reason why Amazon Prime doesn’t offer a 30-day free trial. Rather, they do 13 months for the price of 12, which you can cancel before the 31st day and owe them nothing…. so it comes out the same. So, Spotify is simply not as smart as Amazon in how they setup their pomos for QC. They could say, instead of 3 months at 99¢… they’re doing 15 months for the price of 12 or something like that. They’re just not willing, or not smart enough, to do it for what they most likely consider a “small market”. – WHO Deal Fanatic RedFlagDeals

Females in Tech in Canada, Time To Move Past Stereotypes

In the past few months, the conversation on women’s rights and gender parity has gained increasing importance. We are no longer paying lip-service to gender disparity, and women have become more and more vocal on the many ways that inequality affects their lives.

Canadian government is trying to help with their recently launched CanCode program investing $50 million over two years:

#Metoo brought awareness to the daily violence experienced by women, one that is an intrinsic part of our society, while #Timesup is working on addressing inequality and injustice in the workplace and those are issues that can range from pay inequality to  sexual harassment in the workplace. Indisputably, the best way to address many of these issues is to increase women’s representation.

Pexels / Pixabay

When it comes to technology, women are grossly underrepresented, – in Canada only 21% of graduates in technology and education and 9% of software developers are female. Think about the missed opportunities in terms of lost careers and business opportunities? We are missing out on services, products and ideas catered to and created by 50% of the population.

If the future is to be Female, we need to move past stereotypes and make sure our daughters have access to those sectors that are experiencing the fastest growth. Currently in Davos, the world leaders are discussing how the inequality in STEM will widen the pay gap. 

Here is what Jennifer Flanagan, Youth.STEM.Innovation Feminist & promoter of reconciliation. Everyone should code! CEO, Actua, had to say about it:

Why Amazon Picked Toronto as Their Top 20 HQ2 Finalist

Toronto, the only Canadian city , was picked as top 20 contender for Amazon second head quarters. John Tory, Toronto’s mayor, was very happy to hear the good news:

We are excited to have this opportunity and to be able to tell Toronto’s unique story. The Toronto Region has emerged as a global centre of innovation and technology because of our talented, diverse and inclusive workforce. There is no other city region in North America that can boast the same talent, the same quality of life, the same vibrancy and economic strength,” he said.

However at this point it does not matter if win or lose, Toronto has established itself as a major tech hub in North America that can take on Boston, Chicago and even New York City.

Toronto’s Advantages

Toronto is already booming with tech with major players have established their offices here. And unlike in Montreal, a city in the neighbouring province of Quebec, most of the Fortune 500, have hired not just handful of developers but thousands.

Free-Photos / Pixabay

  • General Motors is hiring 1,000 software engineers to build a smart car
  • Thomson Reuters is hiring 1,500 software engineers for their tech hub
  • Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft is hiring 1,000s of developers to get their AI / machine learning going
  • … and last but not least Google is building a high tech city of tomorrow downtown Toronto

Toronto and its residents have 3 big things going for them that no other city in North America can rival:

geralt / Pixabay

  1. Immigration policy is better than in the US. Recently introduced tech visas can be obtained in less than 2 weeks. There is also no limit on # of visas issued.
  2. Ontario has publicly funded universities. High rated universities such as University of Toronto and Waterloo produce thousands of smart engineers.
  3. High tech salaries while high for Canadian salary standards are very low when compared to US salaries most software engineers make in most of the cities in United States.

Toronto’s Disadvantages

paulbr75 / Pixabay

The only thing that Toronto might be lacking is high cost of real estate where many detached houses are sold for over $1m in Toronto and the suburbs such as Mississauga, Richmond Hill and Oakville. Toronto is still not as high as San Francisco or New York real estate and salaries earned in Toronto are higher when adjusted for cost of living.

Toronto Mayor John Tory discusses making the cut on Amazon’s list of potential cities to build its second headquarters.

Toronto Mayor John Tory: Amazon would be a great addition to Toronto economy from CNBC.