Jason, I have a similar setup to Bear15, and it works very well, especially since a lot of Shaw stations are still analogue so you don't have to use the cable box to record those stations. (In fact the analogue stations look consistently better direct through the XS32 tuner than via the cable box.)
I had (owned, not rented) an old Motorola DCT2000 cable box (not as old as yours, though!), which died; Shaw just replaced it with a newer 2500, no charge. I don't think they rent any cable boxes any more, and I don't know what you'd have to pay for a 2500, but I'd call them up... you might get a deal if you turn in your rental. The 2500 lets you set up a timer program to 'record', so it turns on the box (if off) and tunes the station at the correct time. Means you have to set up both the cable box and XS32, but not a big hassle and works fine for me.
I didn't bother trying the IR repeater, because I wanted to use the XS32 tuner for analogue stations. I believe if you set it up to use the IR, it assumes you want to do all your tuning that way, so you can no longer use the built-in tuner.
"I'm more of an idea rat..."