Kevin O’Leary, “Mr. Wonderful” on ABC’s Shark Tank, is officially running for leader of the Conservative Party in Canada, he announced today.
The formerly apolitical entrepreneur enters a field that already has 13 other candidates, most of whom are standard politicians, and winning the leadership job would presumably be the stepping stone to run for prime minister against incumbent Justin Trudeau of the Liberal Party in the 2019 general election.
Although the reality star has lived in Boston for about 20 years, he is a Canadian citizen with a residence in Ottawa.
Although it is not mandatory, Canada’s prime minister traditionally is an elected member of in the country’s parliament, the House of Commons. It would appear that O’Leary would break that mold.
O’Leary, who wants to bring business expertise to the government, has been very critical of Trudeau for what he considers mismanaging the economy and an inability to create jobs and has labeled Trudeau’s cabinet as well as a number of provincial leaders as incompetent. O’Leary vows to be Trudeau’s worst nightmare.
The Shark Tank cast member and mutual fund chairman has an estimated net worth of $300 million. O’Leary starred in Shark Tank’s Canadian precursor, Dragon’s Den, and he is a familiar presence on Canadian TV discussing politics and finance.
Anyone who wants to vote in the Conservative (aka Tory) leadership election must join up by March 28.
It's official, I'm in. The Conservative Party of Canada needs a candidate who can beat Justin Trudeau and bring back jobs to this country!
— Kevin O'Leary (@kevinolearytv) January 18, 2017
In an interview with CBC, O’Keary claimed that he has a huge social media following.
“I don’t have a money problem. I don’t have a name recognition problem. I want to do what’s right for the party: sell tens of thousands of memberships and then let them decide… who should carry the torch to Ottawa to perform the exorcism we need in this country in 2019 to rid the country of Justin Trudeau.”
The leadership election will take place on May 27, so it remains to be seen if conservatives in Canada will decide if the millionaire businessman and brash TV personality is actually Mr. Wonderful in the political sense.
By announcing today, O’Leary avoided having to participate in last night’s French-language debate in Quebec City, but he will be required to do so when the next one rolls around late this month. O’Leary dislikes the format because the number of candidates currently active.
“You can’t get any ideas out when you’ve got 13 people getting 20-second sound bites,” he said, which was a similar circumstance to the GOP presidential debates which started out with 17 candidates.
O’Leary was born in Montreal but doesn’t speak French, which apparently is a significant issue in Canadian politics.
In November, O’Leary — who previously predicted that Donald Trump would win the presidency — likened trade negotiations between Trump and what he considers the overmatched Trudeau as Godzilla vs. Bambi.
The Liberals under legacy candidate Trudeau (son of former PM Pierre Trudeau) ousted Conservative Prime Minster Stephen Harper in the October 2015 general election, after Harper and his party were in office for nine years.
Other than they both work for or with TV producer Mark Burnett, Kevin O’Leary denies any linkage with or inspiration from President-elect Donald Trump even though both are first-time candidates and both seem to have a similar message.
Noting that he is of Lebanese and Irish heritage, Mr. Wonderful explained, “If there was a wall built around this country, I wouldn’t exist. There are no similarities to Donald Trump, other than we both enjoyed success in reality business television.”
In a video posted to his Facebook page (embedded below), Kevin O’Leary, 62, claimed that Trudeau is squandering Canada’s legacy as a land of opportunity in part because the debt the government is running up.
“When Canadians are working, they are growing the country,” he also noted about the unemployment issue.
The Shark Tank star also stressed that given Trump’s ascendancy to the White House, Canada has to pivot to a more competitive, business-friendly approach, with lower taxes and reduced regulations which will require him to reverse “all of Trudeau’s damaging policies.”
If Trudeau were a candidate on Shark Tank, O’Leary perhaps might respond with his “you’re dead to me” catchphrase.
Do you think it is likely that Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank could or will win the Conservative leadership race and the go on to become Canada’s next prime minister?
[Featured Image by Richard Drew/AP Images]