THE BLOG

Supporting Small Biz Isn't Left or Right-Wing

10/19/2012 08:01 EDT | Updated 12/18/2012 05:12 EST

I can only laugh and shake my head when the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is occasionally accused of being a "right-wing" organization.

For starters, CFIB has always been strictly non-partisan, and we deal with governments of all political stripes in order to represent the interests of small business owners across Canada.

Sure, we sometimes take on both Big Labour and Big Government, especially when it comes to job-killing payroll tax hikes, time-consuming red tape and the escalating problem of unfair, and financially unsustainable public sector pension plans.

But CFIB also sometimes stands up to Big Business, especially where monopolies or oligopolies impose high costs or unfair conditions on small business owners. Does that make us a "left-wing" group?

The simple answer is that CFIB isn't right-wing or left-wing -- we're pro-small business. In fact, so are all of Canada's mainstream political parties, and (nearly) the entire country.

Earlier this summer, CFIB in partnership with Interac®, launched Canada's Small Business Saturday for October 20th. The idea is simple: by registering, small businesses can reach out to potential customers with special deals and promotions, and consumers can learn about interesting locally-owned, independent businesses in their neighbourhoods.

When we pitched Small Business Saturday on Parliament Hill, the response from MPs was tremendous. Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism) Maxime Bernier endorsed the effort by providing us with a supportive quote to use a recent CFIB news release, and Prime Minister Harper issued a statement that called Small Business Saturday "a perfect occasion for Canadians all over the country to support their local businesses."

While it may not surprise some that CFIB would find support among Conservatives, our news release also featured quotes from Liberal critic Joyce Murray, who was an entrepreneur herself for many years before she ran for office, and from NDP critic François Lapointe, who called Small Business Saturday "an important initiative for independent businesses as well as for the economy of our cities and towns."

Here in Ontario, PC Leader Tim Hudak and Premier Dalton McGuinty have demonstrated their support for Small Business Saturday by either taping videos or getting the word out in other ways. Darrell Dexter, the NDP Premier of Nova Scotia also signed a proclamation declaring October 20th as Small Business Saturday too.

And if you think the idea of Conservatives, Liberals and New Democrats agreeing with each other sounds wild and crazy, you might want to sit down when you read the next paragraph.

In British Columbia, CFIB's Director of Provincial Affairs Shachi Kurl and CUPE BC President Barry O'Neill wrote a joint op-ed to outline both Small Business Saturday and CUPE BC's "Ten Percent Shift." Both campaigns promote small, independently-owned businesses.

Why is Small Business Saturday such a hit with politicians and union leaders? I could tell you it all has to do with my charming personality, but there's a simpler and far more plausible explanation: Canadians love small business.

According to an Angus Reid survey that CFIB commissioned last year with HP Canada and Intel Canada, 95 per cent of Canadians value the products, services and personal attention that they get from a small business.

The survey also found that 98 per cent of Canadians said that small business is important to Canada's future.

Think about that number for a minute -- 98 per cent is nearly every man, woman and child from coast to coast to coast. The (very) few Canadians who don't like small businesses are probably the same folks who dislike sunsets and puppies!

If you believe in supporting small business, take a minute to check out the Small Business Saturday website to find out about local bargains on October 20th. If we all shop small, it can make a big difference.

Dan Kelly is President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). In this capacity, Dan is the lead spokesperson and advocate for the views of the Federation's 109,000 small and medium-sized member businesses across Canada. Follow Dan on Twitter @CFIB and learn more about CFIB at www.cfib.ca