Starting with one store was a good idea: Nordstrom

September 16 2014 02:37PM

Nordstrom made the right decision in entering the Canadian marketplace with a single store, said Erik Nordstrom, one of the Nordstrom family members behind the retailer’s first international expansion.

The first Nordstrom in Canada is scheduled to open in Calgary’s Chinook Centre on Friday.

The first GTA stores are scheduled to open in 2016, at Toronto Eaton Centre and Yorkdale Shopping Centre. A Sherway Gardens location will open in 2017.

“It’s a bit surreal because it’s been so many years in the planning. This is our first international store. It’s a really big step for our company and very exciting,” said Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom Direct, and until recently president of stores for the Seattle-based retailer.

The biggest surprise about entering the Canadian marketplace has been the complexity of the undertaking, said Nordstrom.

“It’s been surprising, the amount of work to be done to open in another country. We knew it going in, but it is literally every business function . . . the complexities of opening, just operationally, have been challenging,” he said.

“We’re opening one store. I feel good about that decision because we can respond to one store and see what happens. We will open our doors and we will look to respond to customer comments right off the bat.”

Unlike Target Corp., which launched in Canada last year with an ambitious 124 stores, Nordstrom is hoping that taking it slowly will mean getting it right.

Plans to also open Nordstrom Rack locations have been put on indefinite hold, with no dates or locations announced. The retailer had originally said it would open 15 of the discount stores in Canada. Nordstrom has 118 full-line stores in the U.S., and feels there is room for 125 stores in the top 50 U.S. markets. It has plans for six stores in Canada, including locations in Ottawa and Vancouver.

Target lost more than $1 billion (U.S.) on its Canadian operations in 2013 after it failed to win repeat customers, who complained that shelves weren’t properly stocked and that prices were too high.

Target is taking steps to address those problems, but there has been speculation that the retailer may have to close stores.

The Calgary Nordstrom is the second to have a new store design for Nordstrom, which includes a more open layout and more natural lighting, Erik Nordstrom said. The new design debuted recently in Houston and another new store in the same new design is scheduled to open in Jacksonville, Fla., in two weeks.

The Calgary location will be similar to other stores opening in Canada, but there will be differences because in most instances, Nordstrom will be taking over existing spaces, not building from the ground up.

Prices at Nordstrom will be competitive, but they won’t be U.S. prices, said Erik Nordstrom, who is a great-grandson of the founder.

“It’s our goal to be perceived as the hometown store. We need to be the Calgary store. I don’t take that lightly at all,” said Nordstrom.

“We’re extremely focused. We have a healthy dose of humility and respect for the challenges of coming to Canada, of being responsive to the customers there. We like the locations we have. The opportunity is there for us. It’s on us to be the best we can be.”

The retailer has said pre-opening costs and infrastructure investments in Canada will weigh on earnings this year.

B.C. teachers reach tentative deal to end strike

September 16 2014 05:42AM

RICHMOND, B.C.—A tentative deal has been reached to end the months-long British Columbia teachers’ strike.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation sent out a Twitter message that the deal was reached at 3:50 a.m. local time.

The breakthrough in negotiations comes on the fifth day of talks at a Richmond, B.C., hotel between the union and the employers association with the help of mediator Vince Ready.

Negotiations resumed last week under increasing pressure from the public and suggestions by the government that legislating an end to the dispute was an option.

Last Wednesday, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation voted overwhelmingly to end their dispute if the government agreed to binding arbitration — something the government firmly rejected.

Teachers launched a full-scale job action two weeks before the summer break and students have missed more than two weeks of their new school year.

The federation and B.C. governments — no matter what political affiliation — have a decades-long history of animosity and difficult labour disputes.

Canucks need power play, new goalie to click

September 15 2014 12:02PM continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

New Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning politely shook his head when talk of a rebuild was raised by a fan du...

Gauthier nicked in Leafs rookie tournament; OHL East no longer least: the coast-to-coast (Buzzing The Net)

September 15 2014 08:40AM

Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ... WHL Calgary's Greg Chase : from seventh-rounder to signed Edmonton Oilers draft pick. ( Edmonton Journal ,  The Pipeline Show ) The Victoria Royals are "not sneaking up on anybody anymore," says GM Cam Hope . ( Victoria Times-Colonist ) New Edmonton coach Steve Hamilton is bent on making sure the defending champs don't give up their title meekly. ( The Pipeline Show ) Applying the NCAA's 'student-athlete' nomenclature to major junior players falls a bit flat. But junior hockey is a complex business. ( Jefferson Public Radio ) Kudos to Andrew Schopp for getting "morose" into a game story. That sums up most preseason games. ( Prince Albert Daily Herald ) OHL The Niagara IceDogs have been moderately successful while playing in cramped quarters for seven seasons; Steve Clark explains how moving to the larger Meridian Centre could changes things for the Central Division franchise. ( The Pipeline Show ) Do the Vancouver Canucks really want to make Bo Horvat a shutdown centre at such an early age? ( Metro Vancouver ) North Bay centre Nick Paul 's ceiling probably isn't Jason Spezza -high, but it's pretty high nonetheless. ( Ottawa Sun ) Defending league champion Guelph managed a 4-1 preseason even though it has eight players attending NHL camps. There's the mark of a solid organization. ( Guelph Mercury ) Is living and dying by rookies code for something in Sudbury? ( Northern Life ) So no more (L)East jokes, then? Oshawa skipper D.J. Smith: "I think the East is probably the strongest in the two years I've been here." QMJHL Charlottetown's Daniel Sprong feels the past summer was pivotal for his progress as a prospect. ( Sports And Moore ) The Moncton Wildcats' diminutive dervish, Vladimir Tkachev, is apparently sticking around for the Edmonton Oilers main training camp. ( Edmonton Journal ) Kurt Etchegary is no longer captain in Quebec, but was one of the more accountable Remparts after they were torched 9-3 by Rimouski on Sunday. ( Le Soleil ) The upper-body injury that Rimouski's Frederik Gauthier suffered while with the Toronto Maple Leafs is not believed to be "too serious." ( Toronto Star ) Gauthier's teammate, Philadelphia Flyers first-rounder Samuel Morin , is working on the whole "controlled emotion" deal. ( Pro Hockey Talk ) Shawinigan's prized rookie Samuel Girard had a strong first weekend, apart from getting his visor broken in a collision. ( Le Nouvelliste )— Kevin Forbes credits the Francois Brassard trade for making Cape Breton the favourite in the Maritimes Division. The Screaming Eagles started 2-0 even while running at less than full capacity . ( The Pipeline Show ) Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet .

WestJet to charge $25 checked baggage fee to some passengers

September 15 2014 08:14AM

WestJet Airlines will soon be charging a $25 checked baggage fee to passengers who pay the lowest fare.

The airline has been contemplating the move for some time, though officials always insisted they wouldn’t bring it forward unless they were ready.

“It’s a user-pay fee. It will generate revenues for us, and going forward we will be able to lower fares,” said spokesman Robert Palmer, arguing by unbundling the fare structure, it can bring reduce prices for seat sales.

WestJet will charge the $25 fee for flights in Canada as well as on flights to the United States, for Econo fares, its lowest fare category. It will not apply on flights to Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean.

Palmer estimates that only one in five passengers will wind up paying the checked bag fee, because it is exempt in the higher fare categories, Flex and Plus. Anyone who books a flight using WestJet’s premium credit card RBC World Elite MasterCard or is a silver or gold tier frequent flyer also won’t be charged to check bags.

The new checked baggage fee applies to any bookings made starting Monday for travel beginning Oct. 29.

“It aligns us with the competitive landscape,” said Palmer, noting most U.S. carriers have long had the checked baggage fee.

Those fees generate big bucks, helping the bottom line. In 2013, U.S. baggage fees exceeded $3.35 billion (U.S.).

WestJet’s share price soared on the news, closing at $32.58, up $1.91. Air Canada’s shares also rose to $9.05, up 57 cents, with analysts speculating that the country’s largest carrier will soon follow suit.

In May, Porter Airlines was the first carrier to introduce the $25 charge on all domestic flights, widening a policy that previously applied only on flights between Canada and the United States.

Air Canada charges the same checked bag fees on transborder flights but has not introduced it on any domestic flights.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Walter Spracklin wrote in a note Monday that he expects Air Canada will also introduce the fee.

“With today’s announcement from WestJet, it now opens the door for Air Canada to follow suit,” he said.

Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick gave no hint that such a move is coming. “We are always monitoring industry developments such as this with great interest. We will evaluate it going forward,” he said in an email.

WestJet’s website is already advertising that if customers want to avoid the checked bag fee, they should book either the Flex or Plus fares. A one-way ticket from Toronto to Vancouver in Econo in October is listed at $394.51, which includes $100.41 in taxes, fees and airport charges. In Flex, it would be $465.70, which includes $108.70 in taxes, fees and airport charges.

Perez scores twice; FC Dallas beats Vancouver 2-1

September 13 2014 09:06PM

Blas Perez scored twice, including the go-ahead goal in the 78th minute, to help FC Dallas beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 on Saturday night.

Recap: FC Dallas vs. Vancouver FC

September 13 2014 08:51PM

Blas Perez scored in the 78th minute to lift FC Dallas to a 2-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday at Toyota Park, handing Dallas its fifth win in the past seven games.

Sedin family announces foundation

September 13 2014 03:45PM

Vancouver, BC – Today Daniel and Henrik Sedin, together with their wives Marinette and Johanna, announced the creation of the Sedin Family Foundation. The Foundation will partner with local communities across British Columbia to celebrate people, ...

Mulcair promises minimum hourly wage of $15 for federally regulated workers

September 13 2014 01:44PM

VANCOUVER—The New Democrats are promising to bring back the minimum wage for federal employees if they form the next government.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair announced in Vancouver Saturday that he would make the minimum wage for workers in federally regulated sectors $15 an hour.

Mulcair says the Liberals and Conservatives did nothing to raise the bar while in power, and he accused the Liberals of scrapping the federal minimum wage when they were in power in 1996.

“It is unacceptable in a country as rich as Canada that people can work full time and still live in poverty,” he said. “It was a cynical move to begin with by the Liberals because instead of raising the bar, they lowered it.”

He says although the affected workers only amount to a small percentage of Canada’s overall workforce, raising their wage will pressure the provinces to do more.

“This leadership we are showing today by talking about a living wage — a $15-an-hour wage — will have positive repercussions on the provinces,” he said.

Mulcair is also going to address Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, which is meeting in Vancouver this weekend.

All three federal parties are going into political campaign mode, as the 2015 election is scheduled to take place just over a year from now.

Saturday’s Vancouver announcement is the first in what is expected to be a number of NDP announcements as the party rolls out detailed planks of its platform this fall.

It’s also expected the New Democrats will unveil plans for a national child-care program and infrastructure investment.


September 12 2014 04:04PM

Vancouver, BC – Vancouver Canucks President of Hockey Operations, Trevor Linden announced that Dr. Rick Celebrini has been added as a consultant to the Vancouver Canucks Human Performance Department.

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Canucks Announce 2014.15 Training Camp

September 12 2014 03:31PM

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MLS Preview from The Sports Network (ET)

September 12 2014 03:11PM

FC Dallas will attempt to halt a poor run of form on Saturday when the club hosts West rivals Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Toyota Stadium.

Recap: Vancouver FC vs. San Jose

September 10 2014 10:14PM

Pedro Morales converted a first-half penalty kick and added an assist on Wednesday as Vancouver Whitecaps FC rolled to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Western Conference rivals San Jose Earthquakes at BC Place.

Canucks' Desjardins to better manage Sedins' ice time

September 10 2014 10:31AM

One of the goals for new Vancouver Canucks coach Willie Desjardins is to better manage the ice time for his top forwards, Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

Under former coach John Tortorella, Henrik Sedin was second among the team's forwards last seaso...

Tories’ prostitution bill ‘likely’ to survive legal challenge, Peter MacKay says

September 09 2014 03:50PM

OTTAWA—The federal justice department advised the Conservative government its anti-prostitution Bill C-36 is “likely” to survive a court challenge, says Justice Minister Peter MacKay.

MacKay, speaking to reporters, said the Conservative government decided to take a calculated risk that any Charter challenge would ultimately fail.

That’s largely because, he said, the law is a legal shift towards outlawing the purchase of sex and viewing prostitution as the exploitation of “vulnerable” women, not the nuisance targeted under the now-unconstitutional laws against street prostitution or bawdy houses.

The bill doesn’t “enable prostitution” but it will still allow those who “claim to freely choose” prostitution to do so safely, work indoors or hire body guards, said MacKay. It gives “legal immunity” to prostitutes, and so directly “responds to” the Supreme Court of Canada’s concerns in its Bedford ruling in December, MacKay told a Senate committee studying the amended bill. It has not yet received House of Commons final approval.

MacKay said the justice department provided “an assessment of constitutionality and the likelihood it will withstand a constitutional challenge. And there is a scale of whether it is ‘likely,’ ‘unlikely’ (or) ‘certain’ to pass. We believe it is likely to withstand a constitutional scrutiny.”

Justice officials later declined to comment on their opinion, citing solicitor-client privilege.

MacKay said he made his own assessment after discussions with “other lawyers and judges.” He shrugged off the prospect of more court battles.

“I’ve been around this place a while,” MacKay said. “I’ve practiced law, I’ve argued both for and against certain Charter submissions. But I don’t suffer from Charter constipation.”

“I don’t shy away from the fact that there might be a Charter challenge. That is what lawyers do. That’s what they are paid to do.”

Katrina Pacey, legal director for Vancouver’s Pivot Legal Society, later said it is “awful” to think sex workers will have to put up with the “tragic” effects of a bad law and go back to court to challenge it.

Bill C-36 aims to eradicate prostitution by quashing demand for paid sex. It criminalizes the purchasers and pimps by making it a crime to buy or profit from, but not to sell, sexual services as long as the selling does not impede traffic, does not happen in a public place or in a place open to public view. That kind of “selling” or communication to sell sex remains a crime. The legislation bans the advertising of sexual services by third parties, and will provide $20 million over five years for “exit” services to help women quit prostitution.

Critics like Pacey and the Canadian HIV/Aids Legal Network say the bill is still flawed and puts women at risk because it will drive prostitution into remote or isolated areas or rush communications with would-be clients fearful of police, and will prevent the screening of potentially violent “johns” — the very dangers the Supreme Court of Canada cited in its Bedford ruling.

“The ban on purchasing sex and the ban on advertising will make it practically impossible to work indoors,” said Pacey, an intervener in December’s Bedford ruling. “I think it is very clear the same effects (of the old unconstitutional laws) will be reproduced.”

Pacey said changing the legislative objective does not change its impact. Once courts hear evidence of that impact, she said, “in my view this law will fail.”

She and Pivot’s chair Kerry Porth, a former prostitute, challenged the government’s claim that a similar approach in Sweden reduced prostitution on its streets. “The visible trade moved indoors,” said Pacey.

Even those who supported the government’s bill say it should drop the threat of criminal sanction that would still hang over vulnerable women, particularly aboriginal women or others disadvantaged by addictions or mental health issues.

The senators heard from the Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada among others who supported the bill.

MacKay told the committee there is no way any law can make prostitution — an “inherently violent” occupation — safe or “completely eliminate” the risk to those who choose to engage in it.

MacKay said while the law would allow prostitutes to advertise their own services, advertising prohibitions would apply to newspapers or web sites or servers that knowingly carry ads for prostitution.

Asked if the government would prosecute Facebook if a prostitute uses a personal Facebook page to advertise sex services, MacKay said “they could be.”

“That will be interpreted by the courts. If it’s seen as enabling, as driving demand as furthering prostitution itself, there is potential for prosecution.”

Liberal Sen. Serge Joyal believes the law will be judged unconstitutional. In an interview, he compared it to a law that criminalized someone who hired a painter.

“If I offer my services legally as a painter, I don’t see why the customer who hired me on the basis of the advertisement I have made, that that person would be made a criminal,” said Joyal. “There’s no logic in the bill on that basis.”

He questioned its “threatening impacts” as well.

Joyal said “of course” the government can make policy choices “but the Charter of Rights are there, and the Charter puts some constraints on the government.”

“There are constraints into which when we legislate on policy issues we have to respect Section 7, the safety of the person, and Section 2, the freedom of expression. There are limits to what Parliament can do.”

Lawyer Kim Pate, speaking for the Elizabeth Fry Societies, said her organization changed its position in 2008 from supporting decriminalization of all activities around prostitution to supporting a criminal prohibition on the buyers of sex. She welcomed the government’s denunciation of the “commodification” of women and girls as part of longer-term strategy around inequality of women. However, Pate said the $20 million over five years pledged by the government is not nearly enough to help women exit prostitution.