Kevin O'Leary gauges support for Tory leadership bid
Published Friday, December 23, 2016 11:14AM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 23, 2016 2:50PM EST
Businessman and media personality Kevin O’Leary has launched an “exploratory committee” to help gauge public support for a possible run at the leadership of Canada’s Conservative Party as he looks to “exorcize” the current Liberal government from Ottawa in 2019.
In a video posted to his Facebook page Friday, O’Leary says the committee will help determine whether he is the right person to run for party leader. O’Leary has said for months that he is considering running for the political job.
His exploratory committee is made up of high-profile Conservative activists and personalities, including former Ontario premier Mike Harris and former Sen. Marjory LeBreton.
On his website, O’Leary is also directly asking Canadians whether he should officially run for the Tory leadership.
In an interview with CTV News Channel after his announcement, O’Leary suggested it’s only a matter of time before he throws his hat in the ring, as he waits for the number of Conservative leadership hopefuls to shrink.
Fourteen hopefuls crowded the stage for the last leadership debate held in Moncton earlier this month. With that many candidates participating, O’Leary said, “that’s not really a debate at all, it’s a series of 20-second soundbites.”
He added: “I don’t have the name recognition problem, I don’t have a money problem, I have a too-many-candidates-in-the-race problem.
“So I’m going to let the natural Darwinian forces of finance cull the herd a bit.”
But O’Leary said he “certainly” wants to participate in the “debate this country so desperately needs about its future.”
“We are deeply broken,” in this country, O’Leary said, pointing to new data released Friday morning that shows Canada’s GDP shrank in October. The businessman laid the blame squarely on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who he said has “gone in the wrong direction.”
Wielding a spatula that also made an appearance in his Facebook announcement, O’Leary said on News Channel that he’ll symbolically use the kitchen tool “to scrape all the stupid policies out of Ottawa.”
The Conservative Party, however, is “not broken at all,” O’Leary said, but added that the party “lost its way” in the 2015 federal election by not focusing on Canada’s millennials. Trudeau promised jobs for 18 to 35 year olds, O’Leary said, but has not delivered.
“It’s now clear they’re still living in the basement, so all of those selfies and the work he wants to do with the United Nations and all the money he’s giving away to other countries, clearly he doesn’t care about those millennials anymore.”
O’Leary called millennials his “army.”
“Those are the young Canadian entrepreneurs and I speak their language. I speak the language of jobs. That’s the third language in Canada, Trudeau will never learn that in the next 36 months. I may get better in French but he’ll never get better at jobs.”
Canada’s Donald Trump?
As a billionaire businessman who gained widespread recognition as a TV personality, O’Leary has drawn some obvious comparisons to controversial U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
O’Leary says the comparison is “not an insult at all,” but the “truth” is that he’s nothing like Trump.
“Think about this: I’m half-Lebanese, half-Irish – If we were building walls, I wouldn’t even be here,” O’Leary said, referring to Trump’s election promise to build a wall to keep illegal immigrants out of the U.S.
“That’s not the world I live in, I view Canada in a completely different way.”
O’Leary says he doesn’t understand why Canada can’t be “incredibly competitive.”
“There’s so many things broken in our policy when I think of how our engine of growth in energy was completely destroyed out in Alberta. That used to be the shining example of capitalism in North America.”