During the run-up to the recent provincial election, there was much written about whether elections matter and whether it really makes a difference which party forms our government. The events of this past week demonstrate that it does in fact matter greatly and the impact of the change is immediate and far-reaching.
It is no surprise to anyone that I am not an unbiased bystander in the drama unfolding in Ontario as the new conservative government flexes its muscles and assumes the reins of power. And it is not my intentîon to write a partisan political blog. However, as a business owner, I do want to make the point that a change in government is always a risky event – especially when the values of the new regime are so different from the outgoing one. Whether you are a not for profit that relies on government funding to provide your services to clients, or a company working hard to be successful in whatever sector you operate, the government of the day plays a crucial role in your ability to achieve your organizational goals.
Substantive changes in policy direction create both threats and opportunities for business. This fact has been demonstrated in the past few weeks in a number of sectors. On the threat side, consider the fulfillment of a campaign promise to terminate the CEO of Hydro One which set in motion a number of events. This, of course, includes the entire Board of Directors and created a loss in the value of the company of nearly half a billion dollars at market close yesterday. On the other hand, an opportunity has been created by the new Government’s decision to allow the sale of beer and wine in corner stores, providing the convenience store industry with an entree into a brand new market previously closed to them. The cancellation of cap and trade signals to the relatively new Green energy sector (that this government is not particularly supportive of) means that they will need to refocus on markets outside of Ontario for growth and future success. The cancellation of rebates on electric vehicles and home energy efficiency retrofits will send automakers and small builders and contractors scrambling.
Only time will tell whether the opportunities will offset the threats and whether business leaders in Ontario are astute enough to manage through what may be rocky times ahead. This comes from the uncertainty surrounding trade talks with our major export market and is amped up by the policy changes coming out of Queen’s Park.