Strategy

The CEO Poll: Harper is the best choice

Executives say Harper is the best person to lead the Canadian economy.

Executives say Harper is the best person to lead the Canadian economy. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

While Canadians ponder whom they will vote for in the upcoming federal election on May 2, our country’s CEOs have already made up their minds. They believe Stephen Harper’s Conservatives will perform better than any other party on the issues that are most important to them.

In a recent Compas Inc. poll, Canadian execs said that managing the Canadian economy during this period of global economic turmoil is the top priority, giving it a mean score of 6.3 on a 7-point scale, where 7 means very important and 1 means the opposite. They thought Harper was the best person for the job, with 74% choosing him, and 20% choosing Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.

For most of the issues CEOs thought were important, such as controlling spending and taxation, and creating an investing-friendly climate, Harper had roughly three times the support of Ignatieff. Seventy-three per cent of execs also thought Harper would be the best leader in terms of returning federal spending to a surplus situation, compared with just 17% for Ignatieff.

In terms of improving Canada-U.S. trade relations, 71% said Harper was the best candidate. The respondents also thought resolving large deficits in Quebec and Ontario should be a priority, and felt Harper would be the best leader to deal with them.

In all categories, the other party leaders—the NDP’s Jack Layton, the Bloc’s Gilles Duceppe and the Greens’ Elizabeth May—scored very low. Layton managed to get a 4% for his ability to handle turmoil in the Arab world, but he only got 1% in most other categories. In regard to how trustworthy each leader is, Harper came in on top, with a mean score of 4.3 out of 7, but Elizabeth May and Jack Layton weren’t far behind, with scores of 3.9 and 3.6 respectively. Ignatieff and Duceppe were at the bottom of the pack in terms of trustworthiness, with scores of 3.4 and 2.8.

When asked for their comments, the chief executives expressed frustration about having another election. One complained that an election wasn’t needed at this time, describing it as a “blatant power grab by the Liberals.”