The CEO Poll: Right choice

Canadian business leaders would have preferred a Conservative majority.

Business leaders give the federal mini-budget high marks.

As far as some Canadian CEOs are concerned, the voting public made the right decision in electing another Conservative federal government over a Liberal one, according to a web poll conducted by COMPAS Inc.

The 125 CEOs who participated in the survey were asked to compare a hypothetical majority government under Conservative leader Stephen Harper to one led by Liberal Stéphane Dion. The respondents awarded Harper’s government a performance score of 69 out of 100, while Dion’s earned a score of just 45. Both scores were slightly higher than those given when the panel was asked the same question in February.

The CEOs were also asked to assess the performance of the two governments in a number of policy areas. They believe a Harper government would outperform on most issues, including managing the economy in general, and if the U.S. financial crisis deepens. “In the tough economic times ahead, we need a Conservative majority led by Harper to make the difficult decisions without the inevitable bickering from the Liberals and NDP,” wrote one CEO.

The panel believed a Harper majority would do a better job on issues such as defence policy, domestic security and working with the U.S. government to keep the border open for trade and travel. Harper had only a slight edge over Dion on health policy and keeping Quebec in Canada. The environment was the only issue the respondents believed a Diongovernment would handle better than a Harper one.

But the level of cynicism among the respondents regarding politics in general was high, judging from their comments. “Although I still have concerns with the Conservatives’ actions on income trusts, I’m not sure we have a better choice,” wrote one CEO. “Every election I get closer and closer to the point where I will not vote at all.” Another respondent was even more blunt, stating, “Our choices are like hanging versus the electric chair; neither is that appealing.”