Canadian business leaders mull impact of massive Liberal victory

By on October 20, 2015


Liberal leader Justin Trudeau (Facebook)
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau (Facebook)

TORONTO — Ready or not for another Canadian prime minister named Trudeau, the business community seems unfazed by the overwhelming Liberal parliamentary majority that will be taking over from Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.

The Canadian dollar was up overnight, but not by much, and even one of groups that has been most supportive of the Conservative pro-business agenda expressed eagerness to work with prime minister elect Justin Trudeau.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business was quick to congratulate Trudeau early Tuesday but emphasized that its top priority is to reduce the corporate tax rate for small businesses as well as to control the overall burden of payroll taxes.

“We are eager to sit down with Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party and get to work on the issues that matter most to Canada’s small businesses,” CFIB president Dan Kelly said in a statement.

At least two CEOs of Canadian companies had expressed jitters earlier this month about the possibility of a change in government.

Grant Fagerheim of Calgary-based oil and gas producer Whitecap Resources Inc. ┬ásaid he was “very concerned” about the possibility of Canadians electing another Prime Minister Trudeau.

Fagerheim cited the national energy program introduced in 1980 by the Liberal leader’s late father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, as a point of concern for Canada’s oilpatch.

He said it took 15 years for the industry to recover from the program.

Meanwhile, Blackberry CEO John Chen said Stephen Harper’s Conservatives had been helpful to the tech company and said he’d like to see the “status quo.”

However, medical marijuana producers were excited about the change, noting that the Conservatives were the least marijuana-friendly of all three major parties.

The changing of the guard in Ottawa could result in recreational access to the drug — a move that would fuel rapid growth in Canada’s burgeoning cannabis industry.

“I think what you’ll see perhaps, after this election … is a recognition that there is an opportunity to collect taxes on something that is already being sold into the market illegally or illicitly,” said Bruce Linton, the CEO of Canopy Growth Corp.

Canopy’s (TSXV:CGC) shares were rising ahead of the federal election. At the close of trading Monday, shares were up nine per cent, or 18 cents, to $2.18.

The company’s stock has shot up nearly 30 per cent since Oct. 13, when it closed at $1.75.