Author: Robert Liwanag
Financial Post

Small business issues have played a key role in the federal election campaign underway, with the leaders of the three main parties emphasizing the importance entrepreneurs have in advancing the Canadian economy. Small business owners concerned about access to capital, reducing red tape, controlling government spending and a lack of support for mid- to late-career entrepreneurs are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the federal election.

“I think it’s really important that small businesses and entrepreneurs think about what and who they’re voting for, since government by and large creates the environment in which they operate,” said Victoria Lennox, CEO and co-founder of Startup Canada, a grassroots network of entrepreneurs. “As an entrepreneur, it’s important to ask, ‘Do (the candidates) understand what I’m going through?’”

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents 109,000 small business owners nationwide, recently asked party leaders about their commitments to small businesses. The Conservative, NDP and Liberal parties all said they would continue to reduce taxes, while the latter also aims to invest nearly $60 billion in public infrastructure in the next 10 years. The Green Party promised to further diversify the small business landscape, with more women- and First Nations-led startups.

“I think [the relationship between business and government] has been improving,” Lennox said. “They’re definitely listening and they’ve always kept the conversation open, but whether they understand startups is something else.”

“Canada is one of the leading startup countries and the movement has come into its own,” said Lennox, who founded Startup Canada in 2012 to unite the community. “As long as government is talking to the startup community and working with entrepreneurs to create those frameworks, I think entrepreneurs need to look at their local candidates and be party agnostic to make sure they’ll listen to you if you share your experiences.”

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