The CEO Poll: Our man Harper

Canadian business leaders prefer the status quo.

Business leaders give the federal mini-budget high marks.

A coalition government headed by Liberal leader Stéphane Dion would be worse for the economy than if Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper remained in office, according to a web poll of Canadian business leaders conducted by COMPAS Inc.

The 142 CEOs surveyed believe that Harper would outperform the proposed coalition government consisting of the Liberal, NDP and Bloc Québécois parties on a host of economic issues, including access to lending and access to the U.S. market for exports. Slightly more than 60% of the CEOs said our standard of living would be worse under the coalition government.

“This proposed coalition is like mixing oil and water, then throwing in a little phosphorous for good measure,” wrote one CEO.

The respondents have not traditionally been pro-Harper, but the Prime Minister is the clear favourite to deal with the ailing economy — 70% of the panel chose Harper when asked which political leader they have the most confidence in as Prime Minister.

Liberal leadership candidate Michael Ignatieff garnered the support of 19% of the CEOs, while only 5% said they have the most confidence in Dion. Just 2% of the panel favoured NDP leader Jack Layton.

“A Dion-led government will put us into such a deficit position that our grandchildren will still be paying for it,” according to one respondent.

The respondents are also opposed to the inclusion of the Bloc in the coalition. Nearly 80% of the CEOs believe it is wrong for separatists to decide who forms the government of Canada. “This alliance not only gives leverage to the Quebec separatists during a Quebec provincial election, but also fans the embers of western alienation into a potential raging fire,” said one CEO.

More than three-quarters of the respondents believe the Opposition parties are motivated to bring down the Conservative government either purely or mainly because of a desire for power. Only 14% said the Opposition parties were prompted to act because they believe Harper is a poor manager of the economy.

In fact, most of the respondents (58%) disagree with the assessment that the federal government’s recent financial update is insufficient to deal with the current economic situation.

While the majority of the respondents are opposed to a coalition government led by Dion, many of them expressed frustration with all political leaders, including Harper.

“I am rendered almost speechless by the audacity and gall of all political leaders to play loose with Canada at this most critical time in the nation’s future,” said one CEO. “Harper’s economic message was lackluster, but the three Musketeers coming together to form a government is frightening.”

Another respondent echoed these concerns: “Never in the 141 year history of our country has our political leadership, in all of the major parties, shown such utter contempt and disdain for the citizens of Canada.”