The prospect of a change in government has at least one oilpatch CEO spooked.
Grant Fagerheim, the chief executive of Calgary-based oil and gas producer Whitecap Resources Inc. (TSX:WCP), told an energy conference in Calgary this week that he's "very concerned" about the possibility that Canadians will elect another Prime Minister Trudeau in Monday's election.
The oilpatch has already had to adjust to higher corporate taxes following the NDP's historic win in Alberta in May, and may have to cope with more changes following the provincial government's review of royalty rates and climate change policy.
"A federal government change would be another adaptation that we would have to make," Fagerheim said during the Energy Roundtable on Wednesday.
The national energy program introduced in 1980 by the late former prime minister Pierre Trudeau — the Liberal leader's father — is still a sore spot in some quarters of Alberta.
At an event in Calgary three years ago — a day after announcing his bid for the Liberal leadership — Trudeau made a point of disavowing that policy, which has been derided as a federal grab of Alberta's resource wealth.
"I think that Justin, if he were to get into power, hopefully will have learned from what took place in the '80s in Canada, but we'll have to see," Fagerheim said, later telling reporters that it took 15 years for the oilpatch to recover from the program.
Fagerheim's comments reflect some of the nail-biting among members of Canada's business community heading into the election.
Earlier this month, Blackberry CEO John Chen said the current government has been "very helpful" to the tech company and that he would prefer the "status quo."
"Stephen Harper, (International Trade) Minister (Ed) Fast, (Industry) Minister (James) Moore — especially those two ministers — have just been tremendously helpful to try and re-establish our brand," said Chen, who himself is an American and not eligible to vote.
"I wouldn't want to change it now that I have all these relationships."
Despite these concerns, portfolio managers say stock markets are unlikely to be affected by the outcome of the election.
Gareth Watson, vice-president of investment management and research at Richardson GMP Ltd., says his historical analysis yielded virtually no relationship between the federal election and movements in the Toronto stock market and the loonie over the past three-and-a-half decades.
That's in contrast to Quebec's referendums in 1980 and 1995, which were both followed by a "relief rally" on the markets, said Watson.
"Markets care if you want to break up the country," said Watson. "They don't really care who leads the country."
However, Watson added one caveat: the historical data only shows market reaction to Liberal and Conservative leadership.
"We don't know what the response would be to an NDP government, namely because it's never happened before," said Watson.
"And my take on that is that the response would likely be negative," he said, calling the party's promise to hike corporate taxes and its opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership "not necessarily market-friendly."
Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at CMC Markets Canada, said market reaction is likely to be muted for a number of reasons, including the fact that the differences between the parties on various issues are not that large.
There is also the likelihood of a minority government.
"If you elected a minority government by any party, they're only going to be able to do so much — and the industry would recognize that fairly quickly," Cieszynski said.
"I think the biggest impact would be if the Liberals or the NDP somehow managed to win a majority, then you could see a bit of an impact to the market while people are waiting to see what policy directions they might take."
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