‘I am not Donald Trump’
Brash businessman Kevin O’Leary mulling bid for political life
Both of them are business titans, authors, and TV personalities — one actively running to lead the U.S. political right, and the other thinking about doing the same in Canada.
But if Kevin O’Leary does indeed decide to go into federal politics, it won’t be because he’s trying to be Donald Trump, the brash Canadian businessman said Thursday.
“I understand what he is doing with the media, and you can certainly claim I am trying to do the same, but I am not Donald Trump,” O’Leary insisted in an interview with The Canadian Press.
“I’m a Lebanese-Irish, I don’t build walls (and) I am very proud of the society we’re building in Canada — I think it is the envy of the planet.”
O’Leary confirmed that he’s actively — and very publicly — considering taking a run at the leadership of the Conservative party, a job vacated last year by Stephen Harper after Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won the federal election.
He said he’s motivated by two things: his experience working with Canadian graduate students who are telling him they think they need to leave Canada to make their fortunes, and his dust-up with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.
Earlier this week, O’Leary said he would invest $1 million in Canadian energy companies if Notley steps down as premier. The energy industry drives the Canadian economy, said O’Leary, and if it is suffering, the — in this case the premier — is to blame.
“You should not be allowed to manage (the Alberta economy) or be the premier of that province unless you have made payroll for two years in a company with sales of over $5 million,” O’Leary said.
“...I say the same for the prime ministership, I say the same for any leader of any province. If you haven’t made payroll, you have no right to sit in that seat.”
While his biggest beef might be with Notley, it’s the federal job O’Leary is eyeing — and it also happens to be the one with a vacancy at the moment.
“I am looking at this saying, like everybody else, ‘This is interesting, 18 months from now the country is going to have make a decision about who should be the opposition, I think I could be very effective there,”’ he said.
“The question is, 18 months is an entirety in politics, so this is very early days.”
Meanwhile, Alberta MP Rona Ambrose is serving as interim Conservative leader. The party has yet to set formal rules or a date for the leadership vote, though it’s not expected to take place before next year.
Outspoken businessman Kevin O’Leary is weighing into Alberta politics, raising the ire of that province’s NDP premier.