Wiebo’s War opens Oct 21st in Calgary & Edmonton, and then Oct 26 in Lethbridge

Friday, 21 October, 2011

Wiebo’s War is one of the best documentaries I have seen this year, I highly recommend it. The film is especially relevant to Albertans as we thought we know a lot about Wiebo Ludwig from TV news but David York’s Wiebo’s War, with intimate access to Wiebo and his family over two years, will show you a lot more.

Wiebo’s War opens in theatres today (Oct 21st, 2011) in both Calgary (The Plaza) and Edmonton (Metro). And then screening in Lethbridge at 8pm, Wed Oct 26. (watch NFB trailer) Here is a YouTube trailer.

Film review from National Post (3.5/4), Calgary Herald (4.5/5).

David York, Director of Wiebo’s War interview at Calgary International Film Festival

Q&A at 2011 Calgary International Film Festival

Here is Wiebo’s War (NFB synopsis and trailer),

This feature documentary focuses on Wiebo Ludwig, a suspect in a recent string of pipeline bombings. The bombings echo a campaign of sabotage he waged against the oil and gas industry in the 90s – barricading roads and blowing up wells. And when a 16-year-old girl was fatally shot on the family farm in 1999, Wiebo’s fight with the industry was thrust further into the media spotlight.

The Ludwig family are part of a Christian community that lives in close adherence to their religious values. The community is comprised of 5 married couples, 7 unmarried adult children and 38 grandchildren. They are self-sufficient in food and energy, but live in isolation and believe that those that don’t share their religious beliefs, like filmmaker David York, are living in terrible darkness.

David York - Wiebo's War - Q&A

Thanks Pete Harris, you will be dearly missed! Edmonton’s Metro is so lucky to have you.

Thursday, 30 June, 2011

While I am sad to see the wonderful Pete Harris leaveing Calgary’s Plaza Theatre, I am also happy to see him taking up a once-in-a-lifetime dream job with Edmonton’s Metro Cinema.

On a personal level, I am biased (in a good way) as I think he picks great films to screen. Seriously, I will always treasure he and his programming team’s decision in picking my documentary “Long Hair Revolution” to be screened in the 2005 Calgary International Film Festival. The 2005 CIFF screening lead to the film’s later discovery and being added to the federal government permanent “Library and Archives Canada” collection in Ottawa in 2009.

Thanks Pete, all the best! Have a great time in Edmonton!

Here is an excerpt from Calgary Herald, “Harris says goodbye to Calgary’s Plaza theatre – Programmer, indie-film booster, leaves post for job in Edmonton” (emphasis added),

For five years he has been the city’s most recognizable advocate for left-of-the-dial cinema and a booster of local filmmakers and festivals.

But Pete Harris, the manager and programmer of the Plaza, is leaving Calgary’s oldest theatre to take on a new job in Edmonton.

The 51-year-old has accepted a position with Metro Cinema, Edmonton’s non-profit repertory film society. Metro will be moving into that city’s historic Garneau Theatre and be open for business in early August. “They headhunted me and it was truly one of those jobs you can’t turn down — a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” said Harris. “They came knocking and it was an interesting proposal.”

For the past five years, the burly and bearded Harris has been the face and spokesman of the Plaza with a decidedly hands-on approach to running the theatre. He could often be seen scurrying up and down the aisles in between screenings or introducing guests and filmmakers. Read the rest of this entry »

WIND Mobile exceeds 100,000 users

Thursday, 12 August, 2010

Anthony (Tony) Lacavera, Chairman of Globalive

WIND Mobile Chairman Tony Lacavera has confirmed that WIND now has more than 100,000 subscribers.

In early July I received confirmation that WIND Mobile had passed the 100,000 mark in terms of new subscribers. While we try and view all customers individually, we recognized that this was a major milestone for both WIND Mobile and for the Canadian wireless consumer.

Globe and Mail is reporting (emphasis added),

The [users] number, which the company reached in early July, came out as Wind’s Egyptian financial and operational backer, Orascom Telecom Holding SAE, reports its second quarter financial earnings. Orascom, previously, said it would include Wind’s subscriber numbers for investors.

Wind chairman Anthony Lacavera, who waged a high profile battle against the incumbent providers when he was denied the ability to launch by Canada’s telecom regulator for violating foreign ownership rules, said he is buoyed by the results and that they show the company is gaining momentum.

“We’re pummelling them,” said Mr. Lacavera in an interview. “We added subscribers in our coverage area at twice the speed of incumbents in the same time frame.”

WIND Mobile currently operates in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto, and Ottawa and are licensed to operate in all provinces in Canada except Quebec.

Here is my July 2010 phone interview with Tony.

Edmonton-based Matrikon to be acquired by Honeywell

Thursday, 13 May, 2010

As a shareholder of the Edmonton-based Matrikon, a leading provider of industrial performance monitoring solutions, I woke up to the news of “Matrikon to be acquired by Honeywell for $4.50 CAD per share“. Here is an excerpt from the press release,

Matrikon will be integrated into Honeywell Process Solutions, which is part of Honeywell’s Automation and Control Solutions business group.

“Our industrial customers want their plants to run well in any economy, and Matrikon’s products help do that,” said Norm Gilsdorf, president of Honeywell Process Solutions. “Combining Matrikon’s technology and expertise with Honeywell’s industrial platform expands our offering to help customers continue to improve plant performance. This is a great addition to our business.”

Matrikon will bring to Honeywell complementary applications that monitor oil and gas well performance and mining equipment, as well as supply chain solutions for mining. Matrikon’s cyber-security and alarm management solutions also align with Honeywell’s solutions for process safety and security.

Nizar J. Somji, president and CEO of Matrikon stated: “This amalgamation is a tremendous opportunity for all Matrikon stakeholders, our shareholders, clients and employees. We believe that the path we embarked on with our next generation technology and our product and solution strategy blends well with Honeywell’s technology vision. This combination will enable Matrikon to continue to realize global opportunities for large scale solution deployments and will provide the foundation to support our vision of long-term technology partnerships with our clients.

(More news: G&M, Bloomberg, Edmonton Journal)

If I look at the capital appreciation/investment gain alone, I should be really happy. But truth be told, I like the company’s dividends and future business growth potential enough that I actually think the company is worth more than C$4.50 to me in the long run. Plus it has been a lot of fun following Matrikon’s technical innovation and marketing development.

Now, like my fellow Matrikon shareholders, we have a happy-ish task of redeploying some capital. Fortunately, for small-time investors like me (as oppose to him), there are still many interesting small investment opportunities available in the market if we are willing to spend some time to study the various publicly listed companies’ annual reports, MD&As, etc.

Have fun studying the potential companies and best of luck in your investment decisions.

Rod Charko, $100 million man, CEO Alberta Enterprise – Alberta’s opportunities & challenges

Thursday, 28 January, 2010

Rod Charko, $100 million man, CEO Alberta Enterprise

Mr. Rod Charko, CEO of Alberta Enterprise Corp (started in Sept 2009), came to Calgary last week to explain to Calgarians what AEC plans to do with the $100 million Alberta government (through AET) has entrusted him and AEC. After the presentation, Rod was very kind and spend more than half an hour with this reporter to answer some questions.

Rod stated clearly that AEC is NOT in the business of investing in individual startup companies. By government mandate, AEC is only allowed to invest in investment funds which may then invest in the startup companies. The funds that AEC is reviewing include funds in ICT, BioTech, CleanTech, and funds that are involve in multiple sectors. One of the investment criteria is the venture funds have to have a partner permanently station in Alberta and opening an office in the province.

In the long run, what AEC is trying to do is to create an environment of which venture capitalists will want to stay and keep investing in Alberta.

Another mandate of AEC is to increases deal-flows by working with Alberta organizations like VCAA (Venture Capital Association of Alberta), the alumni associations of universities, angel investors, mentors, and proven CEOs to help entrepreneurs in Alberta and help connect startup with venture funds.

Startups in Calgary also really need to have expertise, industry advice, board members who have direct experiences in the sectors they want to operate in. For example, medical device startup, Java software startup, solar CleanTech, etc these type of companies all need their own very specialized expertise and advices. The venture funds AEC are trying to bring to Alberta will have the needed connection to expertise in the Valley ready to help these Alberta startups.

To give you some idea, the following are some of the questions I’ve asked Rod. I’ve included the video clips at the end of this article so you can watch Rod answer my questions in his words.

* The funds AEC look at, are they VCs in Alberta, in Canada or in US (e.g. Silicon Valley)?

* AEC is trying to create a culture like the Valley here in Alberta. Will Calgary and Edmonton be featured or emphasized equally? Or does it matter? (short answer: AEC doesn’t tell VCs where to setup shop.)

* So your job is to find a good VC with a good track record that you can trust?

* How do you define metrics of success when their recent past performance may not be that good? (short answer: good fund managers have history of deal-flows, lessons learned from good and bad deals, operating experiences in startups and sectors they are addressing.)

* I asked Rod to talk about his background (Rod used to be an investment fund manager).

* Have you worked with this team of AEC people for years before? How many AEC people are there (excluding admin staff)?

* What does AEC plan to do to enhance the entrepreneurship environment in Alberta? Is this a long term thing that AEC will involve? (short answer: AEC’s philosophy is to have private industry own the ecosystem and deal-flow over time.)

* Does AEC have a website, a blog, etc to keep people informed? (short answer: only very high level information at AEC’s website, don’t really want to be a clearing house of information because Rod believes these are better done by private industry).

* The AEC arranged presentation and round table discussions can be recorded for wider viewing?

* How does the AEC funding process work? How long will it take AEC to deploy/invest the $100 million? How will the money trickle out to the investment funds to invest? Explain some of the industrial practice of how the system work (“cash call”, “calling money”, etc).

* AEC is a crown corporation, how does Rod make it transparent and accountable to Albertans? (short answer: AEC is an arms-length corp with an independent board of directors, report to Minister of AET.)

* AEC was started in Sept 2009, when will the first investment expected to be made? (short answer: looking at 35 already, deep due diligence with a few funds, possibly first investment in first quarter.)

* (clip 3, time code 3:05)What will be a happy picture (or ideal scenario) for AEC in ten years?

* Have other jurisdictions in the world been successful in duplicating the success of Silicon Valley?

* A discussion of education. The idea of teaching engineers, scientists, and people in other fields about business seems more viable than teaching business grads about technologies. Rod also talking about models that he is trying to follow (e.g. the Stanford example).

The following are video clips of my interview with Rod in three segments.

MonopolyVote.ca campaign – Is this a win-win for Calgary (other cities), Monopoly, and other stake holders?

Tuesday, 26 January, 2010

The Monopoly Canadian edition has created itself a successful promotion campaign by creating the website MonopolyVote.ca for residents in different Canadian cities to vote to have their own cities be added to the board game. The campaign is reported in CTV Calgary tonight and CBC earlier and reported in CTV Edmonton.

Is the campaign a win for Monopoly?

This is an absolute and unqualified YES! The effort of creating the website and the limited marketing cost to get the press release out and other associated cost is tiny when compared to the free TV air time given for free by TV stations involved. Plus these coverage are BETTER than paid-advertising because they are reported as NEWS!

Is the campaign a win for Calgary (and the other cities involved, Edmonton, Toronto, Halifax, etc)?

Well, it is not that straight forward. It is unlikely tourist will want to visit Calgary (or another winning city) simply because they are on a board game. And it is not like residents in that city need Monopoly to remind them their city is great or nice to live in.

In fact, one may be successful in arguing the winning city that beat off other cities may be HATED by residents in those losing cities. (smile)

Is the campaign a win for the city politicians (or former politicians) involved?

Well, the answer to this one is easier. It is an unqualified YES because mayors/city councillors (or any former city politicans) can appear to help promote the city and promote themselves at the same time! Why not?! (another smile)

Is the campaign a win for the TV news shows who air these kind of “NEWS”?

Well, some may argue that fluffy news like the MonopolyVote.ca vote is a “feel nice” story for the city and doesn’t do much harm. But at the same time, marketers are getting smarter these days and can find very innovative ways to dress up their advertising, marketing and promotion campaigns as “news-look-alike” and then issue them as “news” where they often get reported as news as those smart marketers planned.

Is the campaign a win for the viewers who watch these “NEWS”?

Well, if the viewers simply watch these “NEWS” without thinking about the potential hidden agenda, then people may get brainwashed at the same time. And that can be bad in the long run.

On the other hand, if the viewers watching these “NEWS” realize these “NEWS” are actually advertisings, and then decide to expose these types of “NEWS” and talk about these tricks, then may be viewers can learn to immunize themselves from these so-called “NEWS” in the long-run. And TV stations will learn to filter out these kinds of “NEWS”.

Forewarned is forearmed. Feel free to share your personal experiences in the comments.

Postscript: This reporter is very keenly aware of the irony in the additional publicity created by reporting of the website MonopolyVote.ca.

If this reporter was Monopoly’s marketing consultant, the only worry would be the media completely ignoring this campaign and say nothing (good or bad) about it.

So, in a game of Monopoly, the constant winner is the ultimate owner (Hasbro) of Monopoly! (big smile)

Edmonton hostages & CBC Journalism

Thursday, 22 October, 2009

Edmonton hostage taker called CBC Edmonton, and Esther Enkin, CBC’s executive editor of news operations, writes about her views and the thinking behind some CBC decisions.

“Gareth Hampshire, who is News Coordinator in Edmonton, did an excellent job of deconstructing the episode on The Current Thursday morning.” (highly recommended)

I am glad that CBC News got the call and not “Cox” News.

Now, here is a hypothetical question.

What if the hostage taker actually had the capability to broadcast live video or tweet live? What would then be the appropriate thing for the media to do? What if individuals are spreading the news themselves already? You see, we would not only be dealing with the media (which may or may not exercise their journalistic integrity), we would then be dealing with anyone who has a Twitter account or YouTube account and news/rumours will likely spread fast like a wild fire.

In the age of Twitter and Youtube and other social media tools, we collectively will have to learn how to act appropriately. There are no easy answers but we need to think deep and hard.

[via InsideTheCBC]

$100,000 An Acre

Tuesday, 18 August, 2009

$100,000 An Acre: A Candid History of the Land Development Industry in Alberta by you.I had a great interview with Doug Kelly, author of $100,000 An Acre: A Candid History of the Land Development Industry in Alberta, this morning to talk about his insightful and interesting book.

I am in the middle of a few projects at the moment so it will take me some time to do the needed processing and research to finish and post the interview. In the mean time, if you are anyone remotely working in the field of Land Development Industry, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of $100,000 An Acre and learn from it. Have a look of the table of content and the first few pages.

From Doug’s bio,

Doug spent 36 years in land development, which gave him an inside view of its history from a developers perspective. During his career, Doug worked for four development companies and one land development consulting company in Calgary and Edmonton, with a short stint in Toronto. He has chaired both the Calgary and Edmonton chapters of the Urban Development Institute, and served as president of the Alberta division – the only member to have held all three posts.

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