Kevin O’leary comes to Mcgill

Con­ser­va­tive Mcgill event sees heavy po­lice pres­ence in SSMU build­ing

The McGill Daily - - News - Ryan Canon

Tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity and busi­ness­man Kevin O’leary spoke in the Stu­dents’ So­ci­ety of Mcgill Univer­sity (SSMU) ball­room last Mon­day as part of his cam­paign to win the on­go­ing Con­ser­va­tive Party’s lead­er­ship race. The post is cur­rently be­ing filled by in­terim op­po­si­tion leader Rona Am­brose, who re­placed Stephen Harper as leader of the Con­ser­va­tive Party when Harper stepped down af­ter sub­stan­tive Con­ser­va­tive losses in the 2015 fed­eral elec­tion.

“The Don­ald Trump of Canada”

Kevin O’leary has long in­vited com­par­isons to United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. Both men are bil­lion­aires who gained main­stream fame through real­ity tele­vi­sion and sub­se­quently launched po­lit­i­cal ca­reers de­spite pos­sess­ing no for­mal po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence.

In a 2014 in­ter­view with the CBC, O’leary said that he “ap­plauded” the wealth gap between the top one per cent and the bot­tom 3.5 billion peo­ple in the world liv­ing in poverty, claim­ing that their poor liv­ing con­di­tions acted as a mo­ti­va­tion for them.

O’leary was also re­cently crit­i­cized for post­ing a video of him­self at a gun range dur­ing a fu­neral for the vic­tims of the re­cent shoot­ing at a Que­bec City mosque, and has been ridiculed for his past re­fusal to par­tic­i­pate in French-lan­guage de­bates, say­ing that in­stead of French, he speaks “the lan­guage of jobs.”

Heavy po­lice pres­ence on cam­pus

The SSMU build­ing was swarm­ing with se­cu­rity per­son­nel in the hour lead­ing up to the start of the event, as or­ga­niz­ers hoped to pre­vent pro­test­ers from in­ter­rupt­ing O’leary’s ad­dress. In the end, Mcgill se­cu­rity and the po­lice kept all pro­tes­tors out­side the build­ing.

Jes­sica Lyver, Vice-pres­i­dent of Con­ser­va­tive Mcgill, the Con­ser­va­tive Party’s of­fi­cial Mcgill stu­dent chap­ter, spoke with The Daily about Kevin O’leary com­ing to speak at Mcgill.

“The Con­ser­va­tive As­so­ci­a­tion is not en­dors­ing any spe­cific can­di­date,” she ex­plained. “Ev­ery mem­ber of our or­ga­ni­za­tion has their own unique and per­sonal views.”

Two at­ten­dees, who asked to re­main anony­mous, dis­cussed their in­ter­est in O’leary’s speech in an in­ter­view with The Daily.

“I think the thing about elec­tions,” said one, “is it’s not the party that you sub­scribe to, rather it’s lis­ten­ing with a crit­i­cal mind to each side and pick­ing what best rep­re­sents you as a Cana­dian.”

“I live in Al­berta, where we are in a re­ces­sion,” ex­plained an­other, “so as a young Cana­dian I find it in­spir­ing that he wants to fo­cus on the econ­omy. The one place where I am crit­i­cal of Kevin O’leary is that he seems to lack the so­cial views, which would nor­mally lose my vote in this case, but I guess we’ll find out what he says to­day.”

O’leary speaks

O’leary’s ad­dress painted a dif­fer­ent pic­ture of the Con­ser­va­tive Party than many may have been used to. The can­di­date claimed that he wished to see the party opened to peo­ple of all faiths, races, and sex­u­al­i­ties, and called him­self a “con­ser­va­tive ex­pan­sion­ist.”

O’leary’s pri­mary fo­cus was the econ­omy. He struck a very crit­i­cal tone with re­gard to the Trudeau ad­min­is­tra­tion’s poli­cies, and promised to abol­ish the “Car­bon Tax” as his first ac­tion if he were to be­come Prime Min­is­ter. O’leary claimed that his im­pe­tus for en­ter­ing the race had been the debt in­curred by the Trudeau’s gov­ern­ment.

“My en­try into this race oc­curred hours af­ter I read that doc­u­ment by the Trudeau gov­ern­ment that told me that for the next thirty-eight years, this coun­try would run deficits, so by the end the peo­ple of this coun­try will be $1.5 tril­lion in debt,” he said. “That means that ev­ery child you have is born into $50,000 of debt be­fore their first breath.”

Ques­tion and an­swer pe­riod

O’leary opted to host a ques­tion and an­swer pe­riod.

One at­tendee, Sophia, a law stu­dent at Mcgill, asked O’leary “If you be­come Prime Min­is­ter, will you di­vest your­self from your busi­nesses to [...] re­as­sure Cana­di­ans [about po­ten­tial con­flicts of in­ter­est?”

“There have not be too many can­di­dates in Cana­dian his­tory who come from [a] busi­ness [back­ground],” O’leary re­sponded. He piv­oted the ques­tion about his in­vest­ments abroad to re­flect how they ac­tu­ally make his case to be Prime Min­is­ter bet­ter.

O’leary al­leged, though, that if he be­come Prime Min­is­ter, he would put part of his in­vest­ments into a blind trust, in the trust of a man who was a mem­ber of the Lib­eral Party of Canada.

“I have the only in­tel­li­gent Lib­eral work­ing for me,” joked O’leary to thun­der­ous laugh­ter. “You can only imag­ine those bor­ing con­ver­sa­tions about pol­icy.” O’leary elab­o­rated any re­main­ing por­tion of his as­sets would be liqui­fied. The full ver­sion of this ar­ti­cle is avail­able on­line.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.