The Dragon’s Den star and his sudden interest in the Canadian political climate
By Brady Coyle, Staff Writer
When it comes to North America, the United States tends to set the trends and Canada will follow suit about five to ten years down the road. Well, we certainly wasted no time in picking up on the recent direction of American politics.
A mere two days before Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th President of the United States, businessman and reality television star Kevin O’Leary declared his candidacy for the Conservative leadership.
On the morning of Wednesday January 18, the star of CBC’s hit show Dragon’s Den posted a video on his Facebook page declaring his candidacy, and thanking his supporters for encouraging him to run. That evening, in an interview on CBC’s Power & Politics, O’Leary took his first shots at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet.
“I want to motivate them [citizens] to think about joining our party… and then ultimately swapping out Justin Trudeau because most people have begun to realize he is failing,” O’Leary told host Hannah Thibedeau.
O’Leary, who announced his candidacy the morning after a French language debate in Quebec City, drew plenty of ire from other Conservative leadership candidates for purposefully avoiding the debate.
“It’s not a mark of leadership to avoid a debate, to hide a deficiency,” said Andrew Scheer, another of the conservative leadership contenders.
O’Leary would not have been the only unilingual candidate debating. With only two of thirteen candidates being francophone, much of the debate was difficult to understand due to poor pronunciation and grammar. Several leadership hopefuls relied strictly on reading answers they had prepared prior to the debate.
It is not the first time since declaring his candidacy that O’Leary has faced criticism. While one of O’Leary’s co-stars on Dragon’s Den, Brett Wilson, endorsed the businessman, another former dragon was not as supportive.
On Thursday, the CBC published an opinion piece by Arlene Dickinson that questioned O’Leary’s fitness to lead the conservative party.
“At his [O’Leary’s] core, he’s an opportunist. He doesn’t do anything that doesn’t offer a path to power, fame or fortune – and that should have us all afraid,” wrote Dickinson.
Dickinson explained that throughout her years working with O’Leary, she saw in him a total lack of empathy and described O’Leary as representing “capitalism in its very worst form”.
“The only filter Kevin ever applied was whether or not he was going to make money,” said Dickinson, in an interview for CBC news. “Unfortunately that’s not a filter that you want to see, or the Conservative Party should want to see, or that Canadians would want to see.”
There are currently fourteen candidates, including O’Leary, who are vying to lead the Conservative Party up against Trudeau’s Liberals in the 2019 election. This means that there are many steps to go before considering the prospect of an O’Leary-led Conservative party.
But O’Leary believes his road to the Prime Minister’s office is already being paved by the man who currently occupies it.
“You know who’s going to elect Kevin O’Leary? Justin Trudeau. He just had to keep doing what he’s doing, and I’ll be the next Prime Minister.”