Tony Martin asks a few questions of the Canadian Franchise Association, CFA

September 22, 2012

Mr. Richard Cunningham spoke very professionally and accurately for the franchisor- and supplier-only association.

Mr. Tony Martin, MPP was a key player in asking the right questions which helped clarify how much contempt each stakeholder had for the democratic process. There were five expert witness spots in the 4 days of travelling public hearings that resulted in the Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure), 2000. The subcommittee gave the CFA one of those slots.  The complete record of testimony can be found on


Mr Martin: I’m following up on the question that Richard [Patten, MPP] asked a few minutes ago in terms of who you’ve actually kicked out of the association. I’m led to believe that, in fact, you’ve only revoked the membership of one and that was Pizza Pizza. Is that correct?

Mr Cunningham: I’m not at liberty to say, I believe. That would be privileged information of the association and I don’t think it’s appropriate to make any of that public here.

Mr Martin: You’re not going to give me any numbers even?

Mr Cunningham: No.

Mr Martin: Then just to query as to the membership in your group and who you speak for, I’m led to believe that you have 220 out of about 1,300 franchise systems in the country. Is that correct?

Mr Cunningham: I don’t what the date of that paper is, but our franchise member list is just over 300 right now because some of our member companies, like CARA, for example, would have eight brand names.

Mr Martin: And 80 of your members are lawyers, accountants or consultants?

Mr Cunningham: Correct.

Mr Martin: Also there are some big systems-and we heard from one of them today-that don’t belong to your association. Do you have any auto dealers?

Mr Cunningham: No.

Mr Martin: Do you have any food stores?

Mr Cunningham: Yes.

Mr Martin: How many?

Mr Cunningham: One chain.

Mr Martin: Petroleum stations?

Mr Cunningham: Yes, Petrocan.

Mr Martin: What about hotels and motels?

Mr Cunningham: Yes, a number of them.

Mr Martin: You made a statement earlier about the information I shared with the committee that the perception out there is that there’s lower risk by going into a franchise than the independent small business route. I have a study that suggests that’s not the case that the incidence of failure in franchising is greater than in going the independent route.

Mr Cunningham: I don’t know your study so I can’t comment on it.

Mr Martin: It’s a study called Survival Patterns among Franchisee and Nonfranchise Firms Started in 1986 and 1987. I can give you a copy of the report. It was reviewed by Ms Susan Swift from our legislative research branch, and it’s actually quite interesting. It has a number of findings that I think maybe your association might find worth looking at because it challenges very seriously the contention-and I suggest it’s something that needs to be perhaps looked into further. If we’re offering franchising in the country as a more secure way to get into business, particularly in an environment where there are a lot of people who are being restructured and walking around with severance packages looking for someplace to invest them and they are thinking that franchising is a bit more risk-free than actually setting up an independent business, then we may be sending them down a road that will result in stories such as the ones we’ve heard over the last two or three days here.

Mr Cunningham: Can I respond to that?

The Vice-Chair: Go ahead, sir. We’re just about out of time here now.

Mr Cunningham: Even if these statistics are out there, and as people are being told that franchises are more successful than non-franchises, the disclosure is going to give them the information and the ability to contact people in the system. If they call up XYZ system and talk to 10 of the franchisees and they say, “I’m not allowed to associate,” “I’m not making any money,” “I’ve been in this business five years and I’ve lost money,” or “I’m not in the system any more because I lost my life savings,” I think that in itself is going to tell those people, regardless of what any statistics are, not to buy.

Mr Martin: The problem is, though, that a lot of the people that they should actually talk to have signed confidentiality agreements and they can’t talk.

Mr Cunningham: They wouldn’t be able to do that, though, with this disclosure legislation.

The Vice-Chair: Richard, thank you so much for your time today and for the presentation you left with us.

What is the purpose of an Advisory Council?

October 21, 2011

It is a very useful surveillance tool.

It an extremely cost-effective way to:

  • confuse and distract,
  • identify monitor and delete independent thinkers (ie. trouble-makers),
  • distract by talking about everything but $ (If it doesn’t jingle, it doesn’t count),
  • encourage individual and group despair, passivity and division,
  • “vampirize” the genuine credibility of franchisee members,
  • use a Good cop/Bad cop trick to avoid cash flow issues,
  • create a paper trail that is false (control of minutes, broadcast emails), and
  • debase, degrade and whore-out language and pervert/invert reality via lies and bullshit.

These elite-based techniques are centuries old and have been effective.

With some creativity, email and smart phones, the 1% is frozen in fear.

Why are there so many women franchisor executives?

October 20, 2011

Is it because of their extensive industry knowledge, honesty and first-rate formal education?

Or is it just because most franchisees are smart enough not to call out such a tier 2 bullshitter.

“Well, that fuckin’ fucker’s fucked.”

January 21, 2011

The greatest crime is not profanity per se (see Christian Bale below)  but it is the unimaginative use of any word.

I much prefer profanity than the intention degradation that occurs in franchising in terms such as “sharing”, “family” and “owning a business”. Orwell said that degrading language is the only way to make totalitarianism permanent and unshakable.

Northrop Frye on profanity:

Obscenity in language is an ornament except when it becomes routine, & in the latter event it approaches mere idiocy.  The most horrid example of passivity & inertia of mind I know is Woodside’s story of the soldier who gazed into a shell hole at the bottom of which a dead mule was lying, and said: “Well, that fuckin’ fucker’s fucked.”

(What sort of person is it, incidentally, whose feelings would be spared by printing the above as “that ____in’ _____er’s ____ed,” or “that obscene obscenity’s obscenitied”?) (Collected Works, 8, 10)

[An Educated Imagination]

Are you a stupid or corrupt franchisee?

June 28, 2010

Language and the meaning of words change over time.

This is an antique card used in the game of charades. I don’t think that this was intentionally offensive at the time of printing.

But over time, it would be deemed inappropriate, demeaning and maybe blatantly racist.

Being  a franchisee is rapidly becoming a target of derision in the public’s mind.

You’re either:

  1. on-the-take (complicit) or
  2. a fool; a dupe in a rigged game.

Ambition is the death of thought.

May 25, 2010 was designed so that people could find their own way to a different understanding about franchising.

I found a path that works for me. It might work for you.

To convince someone of the truth, it is not enough to state it, but rather one must find the path from error to truth.

People believe franchising is successful because they want to believe it. It’s a seductive and re-assuring idea (the American Dream, Horatio Alger).

What makes a subject difficult to understand — if it is significant, important — is not that some special instruction about abstruse things is necessary to understand it. Rather it is the contrast between the understanding of the subject and what most people want to see. Because of this the very things that are most obvious can become the most difficult to understand. What has to be overcome is not difficulty of the intellect but of the will.

As you unwrap the knot of franchising’s religion…

At the core of all well-founded belief, lies belief that is unfounded.

Ludwig Wittgenstein quotes, 1889-1951

Philosophizing is: rejecting false arguments.

May 22, 2010

Franchising is a false argument.

Therefore, it is the natural enemy of philosophy, much like a mongoose is to a cobra.

Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of our language.

Franchise deconstructionism is impossible via prose. It is plainly self-evident with hyper-links. There is an near-infinite number of ways to a startling conclusion via

Philosophy unravels the knots in our thinking; hence its results must be simple, but its activity is as complicated as the knot that it unravels.

The industry’s elite have long since believed their own hyperbole. They are the greatest obstacle to re-form.

If you use a trick in logic, whom can you be tricking other than yourself?

Ludwig Wittgenstein quotes, 1889-1951

Canadian Alliance of Franchise Operators, CAFO 1998-2005

May 14, 2010

We started CAFO in 1998. These were its goals.

I killed it off in December, 2005.

I have no idea who Elizabeth Miranda is but I have a very, very good understanding about what is up to.

This is kind of CAFO’s death certificate.

Franchisor gibberish when asked a question

April 18, 2010

Degrading language blows up in the perpetrator’s farce.

Any franchisee with experience with their advisory (lapdog) council should know exactly what this Ally Bank advertisement is getting at.

Egg management fee.

Does any franchisor actually think (seriously…really, now: kidding aside) franchisees are that stupid?

Why being a franchise writer should make you damn nasty

April 16, 2010

My goal is to understand franchising, not to be loved.

To contribute to public knowledge. To share insights and to encourage others to do the same.

Being “nice” is irrelevant.

In Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, John Ralston Saul presents what a writer’s job is.

VOLTAIRE: “That nasty man who did so much good.” Paul Valéry

Is it because Voltaire wasn’t afraid to be nasty that he did so much good? Almost certainly. There is no convincing evidence that writers can do their job by being nice.

And why should they be nice? To be asked to dinner? To be part of a corporation of writers, which like all corporate groups rewards discretion? To be rewarded with money, prizes and titles?

Nice writers are usually working for someone or senile or in the wrong business. Those who have done the most good as Voltaire prointed out, have “mostly been persecuted.” The nasty sort continue to be persecuted in most countries. In the West they have to deal with more sophisticated assaults such as bankrupting lawsuits and job loss. Worst of all – in this society of expensive communication systems – they are threatened with irrelevance…

What is left for writers to do?

Their only job is to make language work for the reader. that is the basis of free speech. Whatever the vested interests of the day may be, they invariably favour an obscure language of insider’s dialects and received wisdom. So the writer turns nasty. It’s a public service.

Dr. Saul is president of International PEN: Promoting literature. Protecting freedom of expression.

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