Conservatives doomed to lose elections unless 'old political hacks' reinvent party: O'Leary
Michael Shulman, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, April 29, 2016 6:57PM EDT
Business mogul Kevin O'Leary says that if the Conservative Party does not undergo a radical reinvention, and uses the same approach it did last October, they "will forever lose elections."
In an appearance on CTV's Power Play Friday, the chair of O'Leary Financial Group and a Bell Media on-air contributor had harsh words for the current state of the party.
"If the old political hacks that run that place now think they can take the same strategy into the future, they are 100 per cent wrong -- they will forever lose elections," said O'Leary.
"We've got to find out how much appetite for change is really in the Conservative brand."
In the October 2015 election, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper led the party to a second-place finish with 99 seats, 85 less than the Liberals. Following his defeat, Harper resigned as leader of the Conservatives.
O'Leary added that the "collapse" of the NDP -- the party dropped from Official Opposition to a meagre 44 seats and is embarking on a leadership race of its own -- means many voters will migrate over to the Liberals and solidify their support.
"I'm not interested in sitting in Opposition in perpetuity, and, right now, the Conservative Party as it is constituted will never get a majority again."
O'Leary was responding to questions about a potential leadership bid in light of a Mainstreet Research poll that found 20 per cent of respondents, who identified as Conservative voters, would back the TV personality and businessman.
The party's interim leader Rona Ambrose led the way with 26 per cent support. However, the Conservatives’ constitution currently bars interim leaders from seeking permanent leadership. Ambrose has also previously said she has "no interest" in the post.
O'Leary said he was "very intrigued" but did not officially throw his name into the leadership race on Friday, preferring to wait until he sees whether the party is willing to “reinvent itself.”
“We're going to find out over a series of conventions and gatherings of think tanks, and I'm certainly going to be involved with those,” he said.
“If it is willing to be more encompassing, if it willing to compete, if it is willing to bring in all those constituents in its old brand -- whatever that was, it certainly didn’t work in the last election -- then I am interested."
The party is slated to select a new leader in May 2017.
O'Leary said his interest in Conservative's leadership is primarily to "affect economic and fiscal policy in Canada," which he said is currently being managed "ineffectively and incompetently."
"I'm proud of the country. I'm depressed that it's not competitive and I see so much incompetence, mediocrity and stupidity when it comes to managing it and I'm just tired of it," he said.
"I'm glad my message is getting out there and one way or another I'm going to figure out how to fix it," he added.