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TORONTO, Ont. Jan. 19, 2016/ Troy Media/ — Kevin O’Leary wants to be leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
You know Kevin O’Leary, don’t you? In the early days of the New Year, he offered up $1 million – just like Dr. Evil! – if Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley resigned.
O’Leary didn’t offer to give the million to Notley herself, naturally, because that would be against the law. Under Section 119 of the Criminal Code, it’s an indictable offence to directly or indirectly “corruptly give or offer” to, say, a premier, “any money, valuable consideration” in exchange for something to be “done, or omitted to be done, by that person in their official capacity.”
Offering $1 million to Alberta’s premier to step down, then, is a criminal offence, one that could win O’Leary up to 14 years in prison. So he didn’t offer it to her. He offered it to “Canadian energy companies.” Nicely done.
It may not have been a crime, but it certainly was a publicity stunt of the first order, designed to get us all talking about O’Leary. And it worked, big time.
Notley should have ignored him, of course, but she didn’t. She shot back, saying: “The last time a group of wealthy businessmen tried to tell Alberta voters how to vote, I ended up becoming premier.” It was a good line, but it gave the story life for a few more days and gave O’Leary what he most desired, which was yet more airtime.
Pundit panels and newspaper columnists had barely finished debating the vast import of O’Leary’s gambit when he struck again. Appearing on CBC – the camera loves him, you see, but not nearly as much as he seems to love the camera – O’Leary said: “I thought at some point, someone is going to say to me, if you can be such a critic, why don’t you do better? Why don’t you try it. I thought to myself, hmmm, maybe I should.”
He added: “I’m never going to run for the NDP. They don’t even like me.”
I suspect that millions of other Canadians don’t, either. He’s not Canada’s Donald Trump, as some have called him – he isn’t nearly as rich, or nearly as significant, for example. But he would do to the Conservative Party what Trump is doing to the Republican Party — destroy it.
Unfortunately for conservatives, they have a tendency to fall head over heels for rich guys. In the U.S., they loved wacko billionaire Ross Perot so much that it helped propel Bill Clinton into the White House. Ditto vulture capitalist Mitt Romney, who right-wingers loved, too, and that kept Barack Obama in power.
In Canada, we’re not immune to this silliness. Smart conservative folks knew Rob Ford was a human shrapnel machine long before he became Toronto’s mayor in 2010 – but they supported him anyway, mainly because he was rich. If he’s rich, he must be smart, right?
Well, no, and we tender as evidence Messrs. Trump and O’Leary, Your Honour. Neither man has ever held elected office and it would often appear that the only priorities they have are what they see in the bathroom mirror every morning. They seem to say whatever mean, rotten thing pops into their heads. And they equate headlines with support. But they shouldn’t. Notoriety isn’t the same thing as popularity.
O’Leary, like Trump, loves to be quoted. He has called some black women “colourful cockroaches.” He has called an opponent “an Indian giver with a forked tongue.” He said “it’s fantastic” that half the world’s population lives in poverty. He said unions “are sheer evil.” He said anyone in a union should “be thrown in jail.” And on and on. You get the picture.
Because he has almost as much money as he has ego, expect to read that retainer-hungry political consultants are signing up for O’Leary’s nascent political venture. Expect to see opinion columns, here and there, suggesting that he’s exactly what the defeated Conservative Party needs – a brash, outspoken outsider, beholden to no one, blah, blah, blah.
As a result, expect to hear more about the Bay Street Buffoon.
And, in the highly unlikely event that O’Leary (a) runs for the Conservative leadership and (b) wins, expect this too: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in power until the end of time.
Kevin O’Leary isn’t what the Conservative Party needs. But he’s what the Liberal Party wants.
Troy Media columnist Warren Kinsella is a Canadian journalist, political adviser and commentator. Warren is also included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.
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