Why Kevin O’Leary Of ‘Shark Tank’ Is The Object Of One Canadian Politician’s Crusade

Kevin O’Leary may ruffle the feathers of some entrepreneurs on Shark Tank, but his musing about a leadership run for Canada’s federal Conservative Party has one politician comparing the businessman to Donald Trump.

More precisely, one half of Donald Trump. Although Lisa Raitt, Canada’s current Opposition critic for finance, stopped short of using the name of the U.S. president-elect and O’Leary in the same sentence, the Toronto Sun reports that she said Kellie Leitch, a declared leadership candidate, was “the other half of Donald Trump” that blamed immigrants for Canada’s problems, after listing her issues with O’Leary. That would perhaps imply Raitt sees O’Leary as the first half of Donald Trump.

“O’Leary is a TV entertainer with no filter.

“He is the man who told our soldiers and veterans that there is ‘nothing proud’ about being a warrior. The man who thinks 3.5 billion people in poverty is ‘fantastic news.’

“The man who said if he were prime minister for 15 minutes, he would make unions illegal, his words being that ‘anyone who remains a union member would be thrown in jail.'”

Raitt, who is vying for the leader’s role left vacant after the resignation of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper following his electoral defeat in the fall of 2015, said Leitch and O’Leary both threaten to destroy the Conservative Party, according to The Star. Raitt launched a website called StopKevinOLeary.com that lays out why the former star of Dragons’ Den on the CBC would not help the Conservatives get back into power.

Raitt held several cabinet posts during the 10 years that Stephen Harper was prime minister, including National Resources, Labour and Transport. Although O’Leary has yet to confirm he’s running for the Conservative leadership, a Globe and Mail editorial said Raitt’s attack is a sure sign he’s a frontrunner.

Linda O’Leary and her husband, Canadian businessman and potential politician Kevin O’Leary. [Image by Theo Wargo/Getty Images]

Whether O’Leary actually intends to run or is simply enjoying the attention is tough to discern. He’s said previously he’s waiting for some candidates to drop out before making a decision. Currently, there are more than a dozen people who have put their names in the ring, including Leitch and Raitt.

But the Montreal Gazette mused this week that O’Leary may be waiting until after the French-language candidates debate, scheduled for January 17, is over. O’Leary does not speak French, a disadvantage, although not a technical disqualification, to be prime minister of a bilingual country. Harper was bilingual but his traditional political base was in the Western, oil-rich province of Alberta.

According to the Gazette, it is no longer possible for a Canadian prime minister to be unilingual and O’Leary’s dismissal of the issue shows he’s out of touch.

“O’Leary now concedes that he is ‘going to try’ to learn French. That formulation hardly suggests determination. It’s like saying one is ‘going to try’ to lose weight or ‘going to try’ to be on time.”

Although Kevin O’Leary lived in Montreal as a youth, he has spent his adulthood living in other places, according to the Gazette.

Kevin O’Leary, shown here judging the 2016 Miss America pageant in September, 2015, has gained celebrity status as investor on the reality programs ‘Dragons’ Den’ in Canada and ‘Shark Tank’ in the U.S. [Image by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images]

Raitt said the issue is who can beat current Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the time of the next federal election in 2019. The Liberal Party won a majority government in October, 2015, and the Conservative Party is the Official Opposition, where both Leitch and Raitt currently sit as Members of Parliament. O’Leary has never held political office.

Canada’s federal Conservative Party is scheduled to choose a new leader in May 2017.

[Featured image by Aaron Davidson/Getty Images]

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