Canadians are headed to the polls on Monday to elect a new federal government, with many issues poised to sway votes.
From housing to trade, jobs to energy, and beyond, BNN Bloomberg asked Canadian executives which issues they want most addressed by whichever party takes control of Parliament.
Here are some of their responses:
“One issue in particular that I think we have to look at is the reduction of inter-provincial trade barriers. We have lots of free trade agreements with different countries; we’ve got to look at how we do business across our own provincial borders here in Canada.”
- Brian Porter, president and CEO, Scotiabank
“Under the previous Conservative government, there was no incentive for anybody to come to Canada. At least the last government is putting mechanisms in place where they’re talking about real grants to corporations. I think there’s been about $3B worth of investment in the Canadian auto industry in the last three years. So things are heading in the right direction in certain circumstances, but we need a national auto strategy in this country and that has to be a result of whomever takes over the next government.”
- Jerry Dias, national president, Unifor
“Housing is highly affordable in 95 per cent of the country. So, how do you get people to live and to work outside of the major metropolitan areas in the country?... I think that would be an important question to answer.”
- Louis Vachon, chief executive officer, National Bank of Canada
“I think we’ve lost over 200,000 jobs in the energy sector, mostly in Alberta. Forty per cent of our real estate in downtown Calgary is empty. If we could get the right competitive regulations in place, we could fill our buildings, we could employ these people and we could attract foreign investment … that doesn’t mean we’re not cognizant of all the issues and [don’t] want to produce energy responsibly, but we’ve got to get people back to work, and we’re not working in Western Canada.”
- Jeff Tonken, chief executive officer, Birchcliff Energy
“Because there is no bottom line, there is no imperative for any of the parties to really cost [campaign promises] as carefully as they otherwise would. For example, we’re seeing big tax increases proposed by some of the parties, or pharmacare, dental care, free post-secondary tuition. I mean, these are very expensive promises and because the bottom line isn’t an issue, nobody’s saying: ‘Well, okay. How do you trade off a dollar here versus a dollar there?’ There’s not even the attention we would normally pay to what the impact is going to be. So, it is hard to say what it means for the federal budget balance in the long run. But at the moment it looks pretty bad.”
- Bill Robson, president and chief executive officer, C.D. Howe Institute
“The introduction of the federal stress test turned the tap off on demand immediately. That’s the kind of results politicians are looking for: Really quick results. Quick wins. Housing is not a quick win. It doesn’t take a day to build a house, and it takes a long time to build multis – condos, towers – which will house a lot of our new homebuyers.”
- Phil Soper, chief executive officer, Royal LePage
“If any of the parties are looking for tax dollars to help stimulate the economy, then they should look at Big Tech to level the playing field with [startups]. Or, on the other side, make us really competitive and give us the same benefits so that we can grow our companies. We’re committed to the Canadian economy and our investment is in Canada. If we don’t have to sell out before we hit $100 million, that’s a good thing and we’ll have $1 billion companies... if we don’t get companies past the $50 million mark, past the $100 million mark, we’re all just going to be working for Big Tech.”
- Adam Froman, chief executive officer, Delvinia
“I still continue to believe that 10, 15 years down the road, 20 years down the road, governments have to have a vision of where they are taking their country. Where are our high-speed trains going to be? Where is technology and cities going to be? Where are smart cities?... I like the long view and I am very long on Canada because of the capacity that we have here. And I think those longer-term visions really point us in the direction that we need to go in to make sure that Canada remains competitive.”
- Ron Mock, president and chief executive, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan
“The innovation agenda of the government: Those kinds of programs, those economic development programs for companies like [ours]. Those are important to continue to invest in and we have heard that… Canada has a great brand. It’s a great global brand for tech talent. We have to make sure that we’re doubling down on our competitiveness as a country. We can build, I think, global powerhouses in tech. but, we need to support that ecosystem and those projects.”
- Dax DaSilva, chief executive officer, Lightspeed
“What we want to see is avoiding the missteps that we’ve seen sometimes with political parties. We’ve had a great opportunity to build a lot of leading sectors in Canada over the last little while. We’ve built a strong mining sector in Canada. We’ve built strong sub-segments of technology, like IT infrastructure and communications infrastructure. Recently we’ve seen cannabis and some other sectors built. But, we’ve also seen missteps like on the oil and gas side, where you can’t raise risk capital for oil and gas, in part because of government policy.”
- Dan Daviau, President and Chief Executive Officer, Canaccord Genuity
Election 2019. Find more in-depth coverage of the federal election campaign here. On Oct. 21, tune into BNN Bloomberg’s special election coverage starting at 5 p.m. ET and stream full coverage of the vote on BNNBloomberg.ca.