Yesterday we spoke with a Conservative political strategist about potential Tory leadership candidate Kevin O’Leary, his prospects, and his parallels to Donald Trump.
Today on the Simi Sara show, the Dragon’s Den star himself joined guest host Mike Smyth to talk about the prospect, along with what he sees are Canada’s biggest stumbling blocks.
LISTEN: Kevin O’Leary for Conservative leader?
So how close is O’Leary to actually jumping into the race?
Last week he launched a website and committee to “identify a path to victory for his potential Conservative Leadership.”
But he says until the field thins out, he’s being “strategic,” and won’t bother wading in.
“It’s hard to have a debate with 14 people, it’s very hard to do. All you get is a 20 second sound byte,” O’Leary says, adding he expects that number to be cut in half in the coming weeks.
“So I’m kind of waiting, I don’t have a name recognition problem, you may love me or you may hate me but you certainly know who I am.”
That said, he’s certainly sounding like a candidate on the campaign trail – and isn’t afraid to call out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his governing Liberals.
“Is there something written in our constitution where we have to settle for mediocrity and stupidity and inefficiency in everything we do in government at the provincial and federal level, or do you want to change all of that crap. Empower me with a majority mandate, and I will take a spatula to Ottawa, and we’ll clean the whole thing out.”
O’Leary says the current government has undone Canada’s competitiveness and is frightening off entrepreneurs with high taxes and a weak dollar, and that if he had the top job he’d spur the country to 3% GDP growth.
And he says “surfer dude” Justin Trudeau is leaving the country saddled with debt because of deficit spending.
“You can’t selfie yourself into a 3% GDP growth, you’ve got to understand what it takes to run a business. All of the stuff he’s doing is crushing the economy. He got elected with a mandate to make Canada grow economically, not shut the lights out.”
On the comparison to Donald Trump, O’Leary admits there is some common ground – most obviously in the reality TV background. His breakthrough U.S. show Shark Tank producer Mark Burnett is also behind Trump’s The Apprentice.
But O’Leary says the comparison stops there, particularly when it comes to race and immigration.
“I’m half-Lebanese half-Irish, there are no walls in my world. That’s not what I think about, that’s not our problem in Canada.”
He says instead the problem is spurring Canadian competitiveness, reducing taxes and regulation, and reviving the energy sector.