The CEO Poll: Car repairs

Canadian business leaders on the North American auto industry

Business leaders give the federal mini-budget high marks.

The perilous position of the Canadian auto industry is no secret, but effective fixes have remained illusive. In a recent poll conducted by COMPAS Inc., 117 Canadian CEOs shared their opinions on a few proposed solutions.

The poll was conducted in response to a recent paper released by the C.D. Howe Institute. The paper’s author argued that excessive regulation and a thickening border with the U.S. have endangered the Canadian auto industry. The CEOs agreed with all of the author’s recommendations, which largely had to do with harmonizing regulations.

Popular suggestions included improving pre-clearance programs for goods, vehicles and people. The CEOs also agreed the Canadian government needs to implement common regulations governing safety, fuel consumption and environmental protection, instead of establishing domestic standards in isolation.

All the talk of harmonization in the auto sector had a few CEOs pontificating on strengthening Canada-U.S. ties. “That leads to the bigger question: the integration of the U.S. and Canadian economies into one economic unit, with each having a distinct political structure,” wrote one respondent. “There should be far greater harmonization between our two countries as the current economic crisis shows we can offer much to the USA.”

Others offered their own suggestions to improve the auto sector. “Canadian governments should consider an older-car-replacement incentive similar in scale to the one adopted in Germany,” wrote one respondent. “Besides increasing vehicle sales, this also has the beneficial effects of removing older, more polluting vehicles from the roads and reducing overall fuel consumption.”