Don Martin's Last Word: Even Conservatives couldn't bear to watch leadership debate
Published Thursday, January 19, 2017 5:57PM EST
More than one Conservative MP told me they turned on the television Tuesday and, after a few minutes, clicked it off.
It was the all-French debate for their party's leadership and even they couldn't bear to watch a bland and at times bitter hodge-podge of current and former MPs, many struggling in a language they don't understand to say little of voter-wowing substance.
They walked away worried.
Barely 12 hours later, businessman and TV show star Kevin O'Leary entered the race by defiantly declaring he was the real debate winner simply by giving that linguistic debacle a pass.
There are clearly more liabilities than assets in this U.S. resident's application to become Canada's Official Opposition Leader.
His is a record filled with politically toxic and nonsensical commentaries blurting from a personality who projects all the warmth of a January night in Winnipeg.
But Conservatives want a winner who can give them a fighting chance of victory in election 2019.
They can't see it in the debate's 13 players.
And they note there was more newspaper front page real estate devoted to O'Leary the day after his Wednesday announcement than the entire leadership race to date.
This is, after all, the age of celebrity in politics, be it a reality show star on the eve of becoming president or the selfie-obsessed son of an iconic former prime minister following his father's footsteps.
It's an age where facts are secondary to the soundbite, gaffes are tolerated and media exposure generates membership sales beyond the base.
O'Leary might not win, but he'll attract a lot of caucus converts desperate a next-election lifeline and, while many of his social media ‘contacts' who won't lift a finger to help O'Leary's campaign beyond giving two thumbs up to his entry, some are true believers and will work for him to win.
True, he's Liberal in social policy, too soft on military matters and he shamelessly and shamefully exaggerates the gloom and doom of Canada's economic potential and fiscal future.
But that's not the point.
To an increasing number of Conservatives, unilingual Kevin O'Leary is barking their language like a savior because he bites at Justin Trudeau like a shark.
That's why he enters the race as the one to beat.
That's the Last Word…