Shark Tank producers, here’s a heads up: one of your stars might jump ship to enter Canadian politics. The investor dubbed “Mr. Wonderful” on the show told CBC he might consider entering the fold as the nation’s Conservative party gets set to choose a new leader.
O’Leary mused that, given his outspoken nature as a television commentator in Canada, he might be tapped to run, and he might say yes. According to CBC, O’Leary is “politically agnostic,” with no stated party preference. But O’Leary ruled out one of Canada’s three major political parties — the New Democratic Party, which is traditionally social democratic.
“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.
“I’m never going to run for the NDP. They don’t even like me.”
O’Leary made news earlier this week by promising to invest $1 million in Canada’s energy sector if Alberta’s NDP premier, Rachel Notley, resigned.
Canada’s last Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, led the Conservative Party while it was in power from 2006 to 2015. Harper resigned after his party’s defeat in the October, 2015, Canadian election that resulted in the Liberals, led by Justin Trudeau, forming the current government.
Interim Conservative Party leader Rona Ambrose said last month that a leadership race won’t happen for at least another 18 months.
While U.S. television audiences might know O’Leary best from his role on Shark Tank, the businessman actually has an extensive television resume in Canada. He was a commentator on the CBC for many years and now appears on BNN and chat show The Social.
O’Leary and his Shark Tank co-panelist, Robert Herjavec, appeared together on several seasons of Dragon’s Den, the Canadian program that came before Shark Tank. The many television appearances have shown different sides of “Mr. Wonderful.” One striking example is an old pitch by a crystal healer on Dragon’s Den. While Herjavec had little interest in the endeavor, O’Leary gave the man money after he left the studio, as you can see in this video, below.
Former Conservative cabinet minister James Moore told CBC he has no plans to run, and if O’Leary does take the plunge, he may find politics a different culture than the worlds of television and business to which he is accustomed.
“I don’t know if he’s maybe inspired by the successes in the short term that Donald Trump has had in the United States. But he’s a person with some strong opinions who if he wants to offer them in public life, I think he’ll find it a very different environment.”
O’Leary’s comments implied he was seriously considering a leadership bid, telling CBC he would have one priority if he were to be in a position of political power: the economy.
“Every word that comes out of a politician’s mouth, including mine, should I elect to go for this, is how does it create the next incremental job. That’s what I care about.”
On those Donald Trump comparisons, National Post columnist Michael Den Tandt said they are accurate, to a point. Den Tandt wrote in support of O’Leary in a leadership role, citing, in part, the interesting debates that would occur between him and Trudeau. But O’Leary’s focus, Den Tandt asserted, would be entirely on the economy, which distinguishes him from Donald Trump and Trump’s controversial positions.
“But unlike Trump, so far as I can tell, O’Leary has never uttered a public remark that would suggest he is a bigot, a misogynist or an imbecile. His abiding interest is not religion or cultural identity, but money.”
In the past, O’Leary has said that the Shark Tank investments that have made him the most money are those run by women.
O’Leary did tell the CBC he knows Trump and his family, and considers him “smart as a fox.”
Regardless of whether O’Leary decides to enter politics, fans of his work on Shark Tank can see him Friday nights at 9 p.m. on ABC, and Thursday nights at 8 p.m. when his companies are featured on Beyond the Tank.
[Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images News]