The CEO Poll: Tory! Tory! Tory!

Business leaders prefer a Conservative majority government.

Amid increasing speculation of a federal election, Conservative leader Stephen Harper is still a better choice than Liberal head Stéphane Dion to govern the country, according to a web poll of 133 Canadian CEOs and business leaders conducted by COMPAS Inc.

When asked to anticipate how well a Harper majority government would perform, the respondents gave Harper a score of 67%. That’s a higher grade than the panel gave to the Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin governments in previous polls, but lower than Harper’s own peak of 82% after his government received a clean report from the Auditor General on its 2005–2006 financial statements.

Dion didn’t fare nearly as well in the survey. The panel predicted a Dion majority government would perform worse than Harper’s, and gave the Quebec City native a hypothetical failing grade of 42%. “I honestly tried fairly to think of an issue where Stéphane Dion would do a better job than Stephen Harper, but could not,” wrote one respondent.

That CEO was not alone. When asked to anticipate the performance of each potential majority government on 11 different issues, Harper beat out Dion on all but two: health policy and the environment. Even then, however, the two governments were roughly tied. Harper outperformed Dion when it came to economic and defence policy, as well as maintaining an open Canada-U.S. border for trade and travel. Even on the issue of keeping Quebec in Canada, the respondents chose Harper.

But not everyone shared the panel’s infatuation with the current Prime Minister. “Harper has lied to the electorate over the income trust issue,” wrote one respondent. “He and his underperforming cronies do not deserve to run this country any longer.” Wrote another: “Harper represents us better internationally, [and the] tax policy of the Conservatives is strong, but they are very out of touch on social issues and health care.”One CEO was plain cynical: “The last thing Canadians need is to waste time and money on a campaign that probably will end in the same government and same situation.”


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