Media

Iconic Canadian Tim Hortons takes a hit

No Comments 14 February 2018

The ugly showdown between Unifor and Tim Hortons shows just how far this iconic donut shop has drifted from its humble beginnings on Ottawa Street in east Hamilton.

By SHEILA COPPS

First published on Monday, January 15, 2018 in The Hill Times.

OTTAWA—What could have been more Canadian than Timmies. That is until last week.

The ugly showdown between Unifor and Tim Hortons shows just how far this iconic doughnut shop has drifted from its humble beginnings on Ottawa Street in east Hamilton.

So revered was the initial location that locals used to joke that the tiny outlet should be included on the national list of historic sites and monuments of Canada.

When I was Canadian Heritage minister, we even plaqued the building because it was the first among hundreds of doughnut diners across the country that were as Canadian as hockey. Three years ago, the business was expanded to a two-storey shop and museum, featuring memorabilia dating back more than a half-century.

Former defence minister, Senator Art Eggleton, so loved the brand that he got a Department of Defence special Tim Hortons outlet in Kandahar, to support our troops’ long-term stint in Afghanistan.

Hockey and Tim’s were equally linked because the original locations, all located in the Hamilton area, were co-owned by famed NHL defenceman Tim Horton.

He lived life fast and furious and eventually perished when his speeding sports car slid off the road and hit a culvert at a reported speed of 140 km/h. His original business partner, was former Hamilton police officer Ron Joyce, who quit the force to launch the partnership. He offered his police buddies Hortons shares for $500 apiece.

Local legend has it that one sergeant refused to participate, saying he earned $20,000 a year in uniform so what would he want with doughnuts. Others reaped thousands from their initial paltry investment.

When Horton died, Joyce bought his widow out. But she quickly soured on the terms of the deal and sued Joyce in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Joyce won.

Joyce parlayed that local presence into a national goldmine. Stores were popping up everywhere. He established drive-thrus and gas station doughnut stops to the point where there seemed to be a Timmies on every corner.

Joyce also managed a national branding campaign that equated Timmies with everything Canadian.

Yuppies drank at Starbucks, but ordinary working people bought their coffee at Tim Hortons.

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Media

Want my advice? Keep Trudeau out of the limelight for a while

No Comments 07 February 2018

This may seem counterintuitive, as their charismatic leader is still the Liberals’ best weapon. But the longer he stays in politics, the more Justin Trudeau runs the risk of becoming just another boring politico.

By SHEILA COPPS

First published on Monday, January 8, 2018 in The Hill Times.

OTTAWA—The new year comes with new resolve. The most important resolve for political parties is to win the next election.

More than halfway through the current Liberal mandate, now is the time to consider a new year’s victory resolution for each party.

Let’s start with the Liberals.

In my New Year’s list, resolution number one should be to keep Prime Minister Justin Trudeau out of the limelight. This may seem counterintuitive, as their charismatic leader is still the Liberals’ best weapon. Trudeau is a sought-after international draw, stalked for selfies at every turn. He has the ‘it’ factor, that combination of charisma and mystique that casts him in the unique role of a non-politician.

But the longer he stays in politics, the more Trudeau runs the risk of becoming just another boring politico.

Less exposure would position Trudeau to preserve his wow factor for the election circuit. By Canada Day this year, the prime minister will have followed up on his all-important promise to legalize marijuana. He will also be basking in the afterglow of a successful G-7 summit in the heart of Quebec.

Facing an election on Oct. 21, 2019, Trudeau should spend the last year of his mandate promoting his team. Nobody would expect any Trudeau to hide his light under the bushel, but to remain fresh, that should be his New Year’s resolution.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has the opposite problem. He needs to keep his mug front and centre, in an effort to build more personal visibility and positive feedback in the run-up to the election.

To achieve the kind of popularity that could eclipse Trudeau, Scheer needs to play down his ‘aw shucks’ family man image and focus on appealing to more urbane voters.

That also means toning down the hard-core Conservatism that marginalizes his potential voter appeal. His decision to name an anti-choice member to chair the parliamentary status of women committee was a huge mistake. During his leadership bid, Scheer said he would not reopen the question but his pick for status chair cast doubt on that claim.

Thus far, Scheer has not made many mistakes and he comes across as personable and approachable. His personal warmth is a far cry from the unappealing, frigid demeanour of his predecessor, prime minister Stephen Harper.

But there is concern that under that teddy bear exterior is another right-winger who wants to determine what a woman can do with her own body.

Scheer needs to dampen down that perception, if he stands any chance of upending the governing Liberals come October, 2019.

As for Canada’s third place party, the New Democrats, their challenge is to get their leader into the House of Commons. Jagmeet Singh’s most crucial new year’s resolution should be to get a seat in Parliament as quickly as possible.

One of his deputies needs to step aside in order to give their leader a fighting chance in a must-win by-election effort.

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© 2018 Sheila Copps.