3 min read

5 Small things to keep in mind for September 9, 2022

1) E11: The Price Spreads Report

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In today's episode, I reach back to 1934 and revisit the Report of the Royal Commission on Price Spreads. At the height of the Great Depression the price of bread rose significantly, and the price paid to wheat growers did not increase. Parliament formed the Royal Commission on Price Spreads to find out why. They did a major market study of the Canadian economy focused on wager-earners and producers, and then made a large number of suggestions. Tl dr; The Commission found that corporate concentration was the root of all the problems they found.

2) Wait! Who is driving the bus?

My nephew started school on Tuesday; he was pumped about riding at the back of the bus with his buddy. I was thinking about this when I read an article in All Nova Scotia (an online newspaper with a hard paywall) about school bus operators in Halifax.

In HRM their are three companies that share the busing for all the students.

Who are these companies? And who owns them?

Company #1 - Student Transportation of Canada Inc - 185 Routes

Student Transporation of Canada is a division of Student Transportation of America, and they operate over 16,000 vehicles across North America. STA is a publicly traded company on the NYSE and TSX. STA/STC was acquired for 1.1 Billion in 2018 by CDPQ, a Quebec based Private Equity and investment firm, and the Union Labor Life Insurance Company.

In June, 2021 STC purchased Pacific Western Transportation (PWT), the largest privately owned transportation company, who also owned ... Southland Transportation.

Company #2 - Southland Transportation Ltd. - 129 routes

Southland Transportation is now owned by Student Transportation of Canada. But, don't worry the CEO of STC said in the AllNS article they would operate them as separate companies. Bollocks. Be honest about it, let people know they are owned by the same company. Don't pretend there is competition when there isn't.

Company #3 - Stock Transportation - 69 routes

Finally, our third company - Stock Transportation. They used to have the whole contract. Then they had a 5-year old go missing, and they couldn't resolve their issues. Now they are only responsible for 69 routes.

Stock Transportation is owned by National Express Group, a UK based International company that specializes in student transportation across the world.


So, when did student busing become a wonderful investment for International companies and private equity firms? Why do we think this is a good idea? This should be a service provided by the school boards (or whatever they're called in NS now), not an industry to make huge profits in. How did we let this happen?

3) Again? Really?

From the Globe and Mail -

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How can we even entertain the idea of Bell buying anything ever again? The answer here should just be no without any other explanation. Like my sister says "no is a full sentence."

4) Let's Go @CommonsPod

It doesn't need to include scrupulous monopolies, but the upcoming season of @Commonspod on Canadian Monopolies is a brilliant idea. If the producers want people to talk to, I may know a few.

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5) Sometimes I don't want to be on the Team

Why do all my meeting invites get scheduled as Microsoft Teams meetings? Why am I always being coerced into using Teams by Microsoft? I just want to be left alone, and not always be badgered about Teams.

Just let me do what I want Microsoft. That's all I'm asking for.

I thought we dealt with this in the 90's when Microsoft was bundling and self-preferencing Internet Explorer over Netscape.

How is all this Team's promotion different?

I don't think anyone would actually want to use Teams if it wasn't included in an Office 365 subscription.