Musings —01.19.2016 01:20 AM—
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 a million dollars — 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 he knew that would be against the law. Under Sec. 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 or to be done, by that person in their official capacity.”
Offering a million dollars 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 prima facie crime, but it certainly was a prima facie publicity stunt, one designed to get us all talking about Kevin 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 kicked the story 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 loves 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.” Ho, ho.
I suspect that millions of 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 — but he would do to the Conservative Party what Trump is presently doing to the Republican Party. Namely, destroy it.
Unfortunately for conservatives, there is a tendency among conservatives to fall head over heels for rich guys. In the U.S., they loved wacko billionaire Ross Perot, which helped propel Bill Clinton into the White House. Ditto vulture capitalist Mitt Romney, who right-wingers loved, too, and who kept Barack Obama where he was — in power.
In Canada, we’re not immune. 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 Trump and O’Leary, your honour. Neither man has ever held elected office, and the only policy priorities they have are what they see in the bathroom mirror every morning. They say whatever mean, rotten, cruel thing that pops into their powdered 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 “colorful cockroaches.” He has called an opponent “an Indian giver with a forked tongue.” He says “it’s fantastic” that half the world’s population lives in poverty. He says unions “should be destroyed with evil,” whatever that means. He says 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. Expect to be hearing more about the Bay Street Buffoon.
And, in the highly unlikely event Kevin O’Leary (a) runs 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.