Kevin O'Leary vows to 'tear that budget to pieces'
Published Friday, February 26, 2016 9:40AM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 26, 2016 6:13PM EST
Businessman Kevin O'Leary says he's prepared to attack the Liberal government's economic plan in their upcoming budget, whether or not he decides to run for the Conservative Party leadership.
"My job, really, is going to be to push forward what's wrong with these policies," O'Leary told CTV News Channel on Friday. "I plan to tear that budget to pieces when it comes on (March) 22, and make sure that every Canadian knows where the risk is inherent."
O'Leary, the chair of O'Leary Financial Group and a Bell Media on-air contributor, spoke from Ottawa, where he is attending the Conservative Party's Manning Centre Conference. He has not yet indicated whether he will run to be party leader, but he is part of a panel at the conference called "If I run, here's how I do it."
O'Leary called the conference a "platform to talk about the future of Canada," including the economic problems he sees on the horizon.
The Liberals will table their first budget on March 22.
O'Leary had harsh words for the federal Liberals, as well as the NDP-led government in Alberta, and the Liberal-run province of Ontario. O'Leary criticized those governments for being run by people who lack business experience, and warned that Canada's current economic woes are "just the beginning of the deterioration." He added that the country should be run by someone with a strong background in business, so they can better understand the policies they put into effect.
"The biggest business in Canada is Canada," O'Leary said, adding that he's "had enough" with "mediocrity and incompetence at every level of government."
Political commentator Gerry Nicholls compared O'Leary's apparent political ambitions to that of Donald Trump, saying his growing support indicates O'Leary could have a chance as well.
"If you'd asked me that a year or two ago I'd say absolutely no way, couldn't happen," Nicholls told CTV's Power Play on Friday. "But what's happening with politics today we see that having a famous name, being a celebrity, knowing how to get your name in the news -- these are all things that can propel a candidacy."
Environics' Greg MacEachern, however, said a successful political career depends on more than a famous name and snappy sound bites.
"I think if this is the Conservative party's best hope at this time they are in worse shape than we thought, and I'm not being a partisan here I'm being someone who has spent a lot of time in politics. I have seen people come out of the business world thinking they're going to do fantastic in politics and you know what, politics is hard."
O'Leary also dismissed all but the most superficial comparisons between himself and Trump, saying that the similarities go no further than their reality television successes. Trump had a long run on the television show "The Apprentice," while O'Leary currently stars on the deal-making program "Shark Tank" in the U.S.
"There's a populist movement that he's captured in the United States that really has nothing to do with the problems that we have here in Canada," O'Leary said. "Ours are far more economic in nature."
O'Leary also took aim at Trump's promise to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, to keep out illegal immigrants.
"I’m not building any walls," O'Leary said. "I'm half Lebanese, half Irish. I wouldn't be here if there was a wall in Canada."