Now that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called an election and stepped into the role of a candidate for the head of the Liberal Party of Canada, he and his rivals are looking into one of the shortest election campaigns of all the temperature.
Leaders vying for a victory at the polls would do well to assure voters that they are the best choice to pull this economy out of the pandemic, as a Nanos Research poll conducted for CTV News in July indicated that the economy is the main political problem for 28 percent of Canadians.
BNN Bloomberg asked Canadian business leaders what they hope the next federal government will prioritize once the ballots are counted on September 20. Some of the answers have been edited for brevity.
Nicole Verkindt, Entrepreneur and Angel Investor, Founder of OMX
What do you expect from the next federal government?
I will look at the tone that different political parties are setting when it comes to getting more businesses to invest in Canada – to start, grow and invest in R&D. When it comes to getting started: Inducing angel investors through flow-through shares and / or tax credits would be the easiest way and don’t force the government to pick the winners. Overall, we need to rethink and develop the best tax regime that motivates investment, knowing that competition from other countries for entrepreneurs has never been stronger. There have been discussions about increasing the capital gains tax, and it would do the exact opposite.
What can the next federal government do to give Canadian tech entrepreneurs a head start on the world stage?
- Buy their product whenever possible: use public markets as leverage.
- Make it easy to attract global talent, raise capital, and cut red tape.
- Complete overhaul of the tax system, refocusing on investment incentives in Canada by improving scientific research and experimental development.
Rob Wildeboer, President and Co-Founder, Martinrea International Inc.
What must the next government do to improve productivity?
We need access to markets. A subset of this is open borders. I am happy that we are finally seeing an opening at the border. Our CEO came over on Monday, it was great for him to see plants and that sort of thing. It has been a real headache for our industry. In terms of productivity, for our industry, what we actually need is a strong economy. I spend a lot of time with different governments on a lot of different things in innovation.
I think a lot of innovation comes from the companies themselves. When people consider investing in Ontario and Canada, they ask two questions. One of them is “What is my total cost?” And the second is, “Is the regulatory environment conducive to what I want to do to grow my business?” We need to be a good place to do business, to be competitive, to cut red tape and to allow us access to international markets.
Ellis Jacob, CEO, Cineplex Inc.
What kinds of promises would you like to see on an election campaign?
We need to put COVID behind us. We need to be in a position where businesses, and in our case, customers are comfortable doing what they’ve been doing for the past 90 years and they can continue to do it in a safe environment. Ensure that we can move forward both as an industry and as a country. It is so important because Canada should be the leader. And that’s what we need to aim for.
Linda Hassenfratz, CEO, Linamar Corp.
What would your message be to Ottawa politicians when it comes to reviving the workforce?
I think anything we can do to try to get the economy back on its feet as quickly as possible is a good thing. Encouraging people to return to work is an important part of this. In order to meet the needs of our customers, we must be able to manufacture products. So we have to be able to get people back to work, obviously getting back to work safely, that’s always a priority. So anything our government can do to encourage people to return to work rather than discourage them will have direct positive effects.
Steve Hudson, CEO, ECN Capital Corp.
What would you like a government to do to promote economic growth in Canada?
A lot of money was printed in the United States and Canada. Stimulus has been great for the consumer. But there will be an account day to pay it off. I hope that at the appropriate time of the recovery we will start to think about how we will repay this.
I think when you look at fiscal and monetary policy going forward, maybe we print less money and focus on growing people.