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Aug 16, 2021
What Canadian business leaders want from next government
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Now that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has triggered an election and put himself in the role of a candidate leading the Liberal Party of Canada, he and his rivals are staring down the barrel of one of the shortest campaign trails ever.
Leaders vying for a win at the polls would do well to assure voters they are the best choice to steer this economy out of the pandemic, as a Nanos Research poll conducted for CTV News in July indicated the economy is the top policy issue for 28 per cent of Canadians.
BNN Bloomberg has been asking Canadian business leaders what they hope the next federal government will prioritize once the ballots are counted on Sept. 20. Some of the answers have been edited for brevity.
Nicole Verkindt, Entrepreneur and angel investor, Founder of OMX
What will you be looking for from the next federal government?
I will be looking to the tone different political parties set when it comes to incentivizing more business investment in Canada - to start, grow and invest in R&D. When it comes to starting: incentivizing angel investments through flow-through shares and/or tax credits would be the most straight forward way, and does not set government up to pick winners. Overall, we need to overhaul and develop the best tax regime that motivates investment, knowing that the competition from other countries for entrepreneurs has never been higher. There’s been some discussion on increasing the capital gains tax, and this would do the exact opposite.
What can the next federal government do to give Canadian tech entrepreneurs a leg up on the global stage?
- Buy their product where possible: use government procurement as a lever.
- Make it easier to attract global talent, raise capital and reduce red tape.
- Complete overhaul of the tax regime, refocus towards incentivizing investment in Canada by improving Scientific Research & Experimental Development.
Rob Wildeboer, Chairman and Co-Founder, Martinrea International Inc.
What does the next government need to do to improve productivity?
We need access to markets. One subset of that is open borders. I’m glad we’re finally seeing some opening at the border. Our CEO came over on Monday, it was very good so that he could see some plants and that type of thing. That has been a real pain in the butt for our industry. In terms of productivity, for our industry, what we effectively need is a strong economy. I spend a lot of time with different governments on a lot of different things with respect to innovation.
I think a lot of innovation comes from companies themselves. When people are looking at investing in Ontario and Canada they ask two questions. One is, ‘What is my total cost?’ And the second is, ‘Is the regulatory environment one that is conducive in terms of what I want to do to grow my business?’ We have to be a good place to do business, be competitive, remove red tape and allow us access to international markets.
Ellis Jacob, Chief Executive Officer, Cineplex Inc.
What sort of promises would you like to see on the campaign trail?
We need to get COVID behind us. We need to be in a position where businesses, and in our case, guests are comfortable doing what they have done for the last 90 years and they can continue to do that in a safe environment. Making sure we can move forward both as an industry and as a country. It’s so important because Canada should be the leader. And that’s what we need to aim for.
Linda Hassenfratz, Chief Executive Officer, Linamar Corp.
What would be your message to politicians in Ottawa when it comes to bringing the labour force back to life?
I think whatever we can do to try to get the economy back on its feet as quickly as we can is a good thing. Encouraging people to come back to work is an important part of that. In order for us to meet the needs of our customers, we need to be able to produce products. So we need to be able to get people back to work, obviously back to work safely that’s top of mind always. So whatever our government can do to kind of incent people back to work as opposed to disincentivizing is going to have direct positive impacts.
Steve Hudson, Chief Executive Officer, ECN Capital Corp.
What would you like to see a government do to promote economic growth in Canada?
A lot of money has been printed in both the U.S. and Canada. Stimulus has been great for the consumer. But there will be a day of reckoning to pay that back. I would hope at the appropriate time in the recovery we start to think about how we pay that back.
I think when you look at the fiscal and monetary policy going forward, maybe we print less money and focus on helping people grow.
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