NDP fails to win over B.C. business vote

BIV’s exclusive Ipsos Reid poll of the provincial business community reveals overwhelming support for Liberal policies

If it were up to the British Columbia’s business owners and executives, the BC Liberal Party would win the upcoming provincial election – by a landslide.

According to an Ipsos Reid poll commissioned by Business in Vancouver, 57.1% of respondents would vote for the Liberals. This contrasts starkly with the mere 17.3% who would support the NDP. A further 6% favoured the BC Conservatives and 4.8% supported the Greens.

That result is a huge contrast with polling numbers for the general population. Numbers from ThreeHundredEight.com on May 2 showed the Liberals trailing at 33%, having recently bumped up three points from 30%, as of April 26. NDP support stood at 46.8%. And although other polls were citing the NDP’s lead narrowing to as little as four points as BIV went to press, results were unanimous that the NDP was ahead.

But Werner Antweiler, an economics professor at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, said BIV’s poll results were hardly surprising. He noted that while the rest of the population might be more likely to list health, education or the environment as their top issues, business people overwhelmingly chose the economy as their chief preoccupation in BIV’s poll.

“Everything taken into account, the BC Liberals are more business-friendly than the NDP,” said Antweiler. “That means increasing the environments for investment and business opportunities, especially in the resource sector.”

While the NDP led by Adrian Dix has taken pains to appear more centrist this time around, Antweiler said past experiences, especially with the government headed by Glen Clark in the 1990s, have made the business community NDP-shy.

The NDP will have to prove that they’re not closed for business, and must provide stability and predictability around things like taxation, permit issuing and review processes, said Antweiler.

“The one surprise that came from Adrian Dix was reversal on Kinder Morgan,” said Antweiler. “I think that is maybe a bit of a reflection of the perceptions of the business community who say now you’re slamming the door shut before it’s even been opened.”

BIV’s poll results show that 62% of respondents think that Christy Clark and the BC Liberals would do the best job managing the B.C. economy, while 15.7% said the same of Adrian Dix’s NDP.

While business people may not like it, most acknowledge the writing is on the wall: 48.2% thought the NDP would be most likely to win the election on May 14.

That result also doesn’t surprise Antweiler, who runs Sauder’s online prediction market, where traders can buy and sell shares representing the political parties.

“[Traders are] 95% sure that the NDP will win the election … and in the last two days the numbers are increasingly going up to 99%,” said Antweiler. •

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