‘I am not Don­ald Trump’

Brash busi­ness­man Kevin O’Leary mulling bid for political life

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

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.

CP PHOTO

Out­spo­ken busi­ness­man Kevin O’Leary is weigh­ing into Al­berta pol­i­tics, rais­ing the ire of that prov­ince’s NDP premier.

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