Hot home prices, Rebagliati's pot of gold and Lulu's latest lemon: the week in business

A bad week for BlackBerry, more bad news for Lululemon and more evidence that Canada's housing market is moving into uncharted waters. It was a busy week in business news and Jacqueline Hansen explains it all in our week in review.
From bad news for Lululemon and BlackBerry to an Olympic champion's foray into the medical marijuana business, a wrap of the week's top business stories with CBC's Jacqueline Hansen 3:01

BlackBerry has had its fair share of bad press in the past, but the Waterloo-based technology company saw itself in investors' bad books this week for reasons entirely beyond its control.

pact announced this week between former bitter rivals Apple and IBM to collaborate on a host of new technologies was perceived as bad news for BlackBerry, as what comes out of it is likely to take direct aim at one of the last bastions of strength for BlackBerry — business customers.

Working together gives staid IBM a chance to soak up some of Apple's cool factor, while the latter gets to borrow Big Blue's rep for making serious business tools, something hipster-heavy iPhones haven't been able to do yet.

Whatever the outcome, BlackBerry shareholders pushed the shares down almost 10 per cent when news of the tie-up came out. And at least one analyst says that's warranted. Some companies, "tentatively continue to use BlackBerry till something better comes along and this maybe the push that they need to move over," technology analyst Daniel Bader told CBC this week.

House prices up — again

Battered BlackBerry was down in the dumps this week, but the same can't be said of another Canadian staple: house prices. On Wednesday, the latest numbers showed Canadian house prices continue to creep higher, with the average selling price now up almost seven per cent to $413,215.

Inflated real estate is nothing new, but a look below the headline numbers shows that the ongoing real estate boom isn't sweeping the country very evenly. If you strip hot markets in Toronto and Vancouver out of the equation, the market's looking a lot more wobbly, housing experts say. "You can find a few major markets that are very, very strong but you can find most of the communities are not very strong at all right now," economist Will Dunning told CBC this week.

They don't get a lot of sexy headlines, but some Canadian cities and towns are actually seeing yearly price declines, after several rounds of government crackdowns on lending standards. Indeed, we should all get used to lower prices in a hurry, as influential ratings agency Fitch predicted this week that Canadian house prices overall are due for a big correction, and see as much as 20 per cent of their value wiped out.

The dot-bong boom

The housing market may very well be going to pot, but going to pot is proving a good thing for entrepreneurs. Canadian Olympic snowboard champ Ross Rebagliati is lending his name to a medical marijuana business.

Rebagliati is hoping his story — gold in Nagano in '98 only to have his medal stripped from him after testing positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and then seeing his medal restored after it emerged pot isn't on the IOC's list of banned substances after all — might lend a hand to a growing industry with great potential.

"We feel that that’s going to be an attraction to people who are in the cannabis business already and people who are new to it," he told The Lang & O'Leary Exchange this week.

Sunscreen slogan feels the heat

Rebagliati might be trying to generate a little buzz for his budding new venture, but another B.C. icon was making news for all the wrong reasons this week.

Lululemon, the Vancouver-based maker of trendy yoga gear that's run into tough times of late, walked into another pitfall this week after criticism emerged over one of the slogans the apparel-maker slaps on its ubiquitous bags.

"Sunscreen absorbed into the skin might be worse for you than sunshine," some Lulelemon bags declare. "Get the right amount of sunshine." That message didn't sit right with dermatologists and cancer doctors, who've been working diligently for years to get Canadians to cover up from harsh UV rays.

"The important message that we need to get out to people is that sun will damage your skin," cancer researchers told CBC this week. "Sun will give you skin cancer. Sun will make you look old."

After a scandal over see-though pants, some questionable comments about women's bodies from the company's founder and a stock price that's been doing downward dog for more than a year now, more bad press was probably the last thing the company needed.

That's just a few of the stories making headlines in the business world this week. Check back often at for more, and follow us on Twitter here.


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