Senate seats for sale? O'Leary says he'd consider it
Published Sunday, January 15, 2017 8:00AM EST
Last Updated Sunday, January 15, 2017 5:06PM EST
Kevin O’Leary is continuing to float unconventional ideas as he mulls a bid for the Conservative leadership -- including allowing people to buy Senate seats.
"I don’t know why we can’t have a hundred thousand or a couple of hundred thousand committed each year per senator," the businessman and celebrity investor said in an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV’s Question Period.
"Instead of it being a cost centre to Canada, why can’t it be a profit centre?"
- Scroll down or click here to vote in our poll of the day
O’Leary added that senators would "still have to be accredited" but he would "love the fact that, if you're going to be a senator you commit financially to it, because it's a role of honour."
University of Waterloo political scientist Emmett Macfarlane called the proposal "undoubtedly unconstitutional."
"The Supreme Court of Canada made it clear in 2014 that any changes to Senate appointments that would alter its role would require a constitutional amendment and the approval of a majority of provinces," Macfarlane added.
Senators are currently paid a base salary of $145,400. After an expense scandal involving both Conservative and Liberal appointees, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau removed Liberal senators from his caucus and has since made appointments based on shortlists provided by an advisory board.
O'Leary also told Question Period that he has no plans to run for a seat in Parliament should he enter the leadership race, even though there are vacant seats in Ontario and Alberta.
He said his time would be better spent travelling the country to sell the party’s ideas.
"We’ve got to expand the brand of the Conservative Party," he added. "You don’t do that sitting in Ottawa."
The "Shark Tank" personality also expressed dissatisfaction with campaign financing rules that don't allow him to spend millions of dollars on his own campaign. Union and corporate donations are also banned.
"I feel bad for the candidates that run around and collected $1,500 at a time," he said. "I'm going to have to do the same thing, but I think it's unfair. Why not let me spend my own money … as long as it's transparent?"
O'Leary added that he thinks the prime minister is in "trouble right now" over cash-for-access fundraising dinners because he "wasn't transparent." He said that the Conservatives' Senate "trouble" was because of their lack of transparency.
"We wouldn't have trouble with campaign financing if everything was transparent," he said. "Transparency … that's how you run a country."