Putting months of speculation to rest, Kevin O’Leary announced his bid for leading the Conservative Party of Canada. His announcement was made online, on Facebook this Wednesday. His timing was an interesting choice. The French language debate amongst the candidates was on Tuesday night ; O’Leary doesn’t speak fluent French.
The Trump FactorA celebrity broadcast personality, O’Leary is best known as the outspoken investor on TV, on Dragon’s Den and the Shark Tank. He founded the O’Leary Funds and chairs the O’Leary Financial Group. Parallels have been drawn between O’Leary and the newly inaugurated POTUS Donald Trump. Both are successful businessmen, media personalities and very vocal on social media, especially when it comes to criticizing those in power. President Trump was sure to take to twitter to criticize his opponents while O’Leary has been tough on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling him ‘the enemy’ who was ‘destroying our country.’ Son of immigrants himself, his father was Irish while his mother is of Lebanese descent, O’Leary distances himself from the anti-immigrants policy that was a mainstay of the Trump campaign, and has reared its ugly head in the campaign run for other Canadian Conservative leader hopefuls. Success in business equals success in governance Both Trump and O’Leary have played up their success in business as a reason for being elected into positions of power. Trump is a real estate mogul with a string of hotels littered around the globe while O’Leary cites his ability to read a balance sheet makes him perfect for becoming the Prime Minister of the country.
Challenge Status QuoWith a string of television and radio appearances, O’Leary is already a household name and could afford his late entry into the leadership bid. While announcing his decision to run for leading the Conservative Party, O’Leary thanked thousands of fans who had encouraged him to consider the bid. It is interesting to note that O’Leary realizes the potential of the untapped voting power of the millennials. Talking to Hannah Thibedeau on CBC’s Power and Politics, O’Leary boasted his reach; ‘1.2 million Canadians a week though social media.’ “I want to motivate them to think about joining our party, and of course going through the leadership race, and then ultimately swapping out Justin Trudeau because most people have begun to realize he is failing and it's a horrible feeling for Canada,” he said. His announcement has gotten the Conservative Party hopeful at another run in Ottawa. There have been reports of people taking out a membership for the first time because of O’Leary, and most analysts agree that O’Leary will make a formidable opponent for Justin Trudeau.
Lacks Empathy, says co-star Arlene DickinsonOne of his co-stars on Dragon’s Den, Arlene Dickinson has written for CBC saying that O’Leary is the exactly the same person privately as he is on camera. She wrote: "For seven years, I sat shoulder to shoulder with Kevin. We'd spend long hours together, listening to hardworking Canadian entrepreneurs pitch their businesses, which, all too often, led to real-life stories of enormous struggle. You get a window into somebody's character by the way they treat people, particularly those who are vulnerable and need help or guidance. "Kevin's total lack of empathy toward these Canadians who put their heart and soul on the line, I can assure you, was genuine." Other Conservative Party leader hopefuls have also criticized O’Leary, saying that his waiting to announce the bid after the first French debate ended was ‘disrespectful.’ Others had called him out for saying “whatever ridiculous thing comes to his mind.” (It is interesting to note that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had come under fire this same week when his replied in French to questions posed in English at an event in Sherbrooke, Que.)