Election? What election?

Sun Oct 12, 2008 10:38am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO (Reuters) - (Reuters) - Bay Street, riveted by the sight of plunging markets and economies teetering on the edge of recession, has been paying precious little attention to the campaign leading to Canada's general election on Tuesday.

"I don't think investors are really at all focused on the fact there is a Canadian election and what any potential policy change that may bring," said George Vasic, equity strategist at UBS Securities Canada. "Concerns are far greater than that in terms of the global financial crisis."

Even the U.S. election, which Vasic describes as the "most intriguing" in memory, supersedes the Canadian financial world's concern over what might happen in Canada, he said.

Polls show the election is likely to result in the reelection of the Conservative Party under Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

As of Friday most pollsters were saying that what remains in doubt is whether it will be another minority Conservative government, as was the case after the last election in 2006, or whether Harper will be able to get a majority.

The Conservatives are the most right wing of Canada's parties and are considered the most market-friendly. But Bay Street also has little fear of their main opposition, the centrist Liberals, under whom Bay Street prospered for more than a decade until the 2006 election.

The other national contenders in the election, the left-of-center New Democrats and the Green Party, are given no chance of being elected although there is talk of an anything-but-Harper coalition in the case of a minority government.

In a report titled "Canada: Remember the election?", Vasic and strategist Garry Cooper said while minority governments look potentially chaotic to foreign investors, the Toronto Stock Exchange's key index has, in fact, outperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 Index during six of the eight minority governments that Canada has had in the last half century.   Continued...

<p>A Bay Street sign is seen at the financial district in Toronto, October 10, 2008. The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index tumbled 700 points on Friday afternoon, as commodity stocks slid along with underlying prices on deepening fears the world economy will go into recession. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>