Kevin O'Leary mulling run for Conservative Party leadership
Published Thursday, January 14, 2016 3:36PM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 15, 2016 10:26AM EST
Celebrity investor Kevin O’Leary says he’s considering running for the leadership of the federal Conservative Party.
In an interview from Florida on Thursday, O’Leary acknowledged that it’s too early to make a decision 18 months ahead of the anticipated Tory convention, but said he’s interested in testing the waters.
“It’s 18 months from now and that’s an eternity in politics,” he told CTV News Channel. “Most people that are looking at this are floating trial balloons. I’m just one of them.”
O’Leary, the chair of O'Leary Financial Group and a Bell Media on-air contributor, said he’s concerned about Canada’s economic outlook and doesn’t believe the new Liberal government is doing enough to create jobs and boost growth.
He said the travels and commitments Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made during his first two months in office didn’t create “one incremental Canadian job.”
“I consider that a fail,” he said.
O’Leary blamed the decline of the loonie not just on falling oil prices, but also on what he calls a “less and less investment-friendly” Canada.
He said he would be a good candidate to run the country “because all I care about is the economy.”
In an earlier interview with BNN, O’Leary said that “Canada is broken.”
“Someone has to fix it,” he said.
O’Leary said another motivation for his potential foray into politics is his experience teaching business students in Canada. O’Leary said all of his students are interested in his American business contacts because they see better opportunities across the border.
“This is our future leaving Canada,” he said. “Why can’t we be competitive? Why can’t we keep our leaders?”
News of O’Leary’s political future come days after he took aim at Alberta’s NDP government, accusing Premier Rachel Notley of “financial malfeasance” as the energy sector continues to shed jobs amid plummeting oil prices, and raising eyebrows with an offer to invest $1 million in Canadian energy companies if she resigns.
“She has got to go,” O’Leary told a radio station on Monday.
Notley responded by telling O’Leary to “bring it on.”
“Well, you know the last time a group of wealthy businessmen tried to tell Alberta voters how to vote I ended up becoming premier," she said at a news conference.
Asked how he feels about people comparing him to controversial U.S. Republican presidential nomination candidate and business mogul Donald Trump, O’Leary said there are some parallels.
“There’s some truth to it regarding the media, obviously. You need the media at least to get your message out, but that’s where the similarities end.”
Unlike Trump, who provoked outrage by saying that Muslims should be banned from entering the U.S., O’Leary said he’s a “proud, inclusive Canadian” who believes that the country should “embrace every culture and every religion.”
After the Conservatives were voted out of power last October, Stephen Harper stepped down as leader of the party. Alberta MP Rona Ambrose was elected the party’s interim leader in November.