EDITORIAL: Is O’Leary Canada’s very own Trump?

by | Jan 27, 2017 | Editorial

The new President of the United States of America is causing an uproar in his country. Will Canada be subjected to similar tensions in its political world?

Canadian businessman and reality TV star Kevin O’Leary wants to shift to a similar tone of political discussion within our great northern borders.

He introduced himself to the campaign by posting a video to Facebook announcing his new move to run for the leadership of the federal Conservative Party, now being determined.

Almost instantly after releasing the video he went on CTV news to discuss his inspiration to run and what he plans on bringing to the table for Canadians.

“We need a leader that can actually deal with Trump, we need a leader in the Conservative Party that can beat (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau and that means I have to expand the base of the conservative party,” O’Leary told CTV News.

He claims that his social media following is his main source of inspiration, a lot like Trump’s relation with Twitter.

“I’ve started this journey really on social media about a year ago, millions of Canadians have contacted me and I’m enjoying a huge platform on social media,” he said.

Trump’s unconventional business persona is something that Canadian politics is getting a glimpse of with O’Leary, who entered the race late on Jan. 18 and is the last candidate to do so.

Much like Trump, O’Leary is also a TV personality on business shows such as Dragons Den and Shark Tank. Neither of the business tycoons have experience in politics. O’Leary is hoping that his former roles on TV will gain him support. He mentioned the demographic of 18-35 year olds and how they’re going to carry him to his victory, because they’re fed up with the Trudeau administration, and the increased rate of debt and lack of jobs.

“That’s my army of entrepreneurs, that’s who knows me from Dragons Den and Shark Tank, that’s a very important attribute. I’ll just talk to them about what our plan is going to be, and in 2019 it won’t be an election, it will be an exorcism…the curse of Trudeau’s debt, I’m getting rid of it.”

The election of Donald Trump has surprised many in the international community, but it does raise the question of a potential bully on the international stage. How will he regard Canada when he begins to institute taxes and policies on trade? We know that he is determined to completely remove the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, a trade deal between Canada, Mexico and the United States of America.

With no political experience, O’Leary claims he is an asset to Canada during a time of great change, and that Canada must be lead by someone who will not be bullied by the Trump administration.

He also says that the debt our country is facing is because of the Trudeau administration.

“I think he misinterpreted his mandate in a horrible way. Going into debt $1.5 trillion means that every young person in this country is going to pay for debt and interest on money spent long before their time. It’s so unfair and so wrong,” he said.

O’Leary has only a few months to catch up to the other candidates who have already been campaigning for close to a year.

Although born in Montreal, the new Conservative candidate cannot speak French and completely ducked the French-language debate among his rivals.

He has committed to learning the language at this point, but initially had issues with doing so.

It came to many as a surprise when Trump won the presidency on Nov. 8. Canada and the United States of America have a very close knit relationship, they are our largest and strongest trading partner. Regardless of political change, the Trump administration is going to affect our country. With the proposal to dissolve NAFTA and other policies that will affect trade in North America, we are going to feel the impact of the new self proclaimed multi-millionaire.

Trump’s outspoken style has definitely affected the tone of this election. Tensions have been high throughout the campaign and in post-election America. There are regular incidents of violence from both sides of the political spectrum.

Trump’s unconventional style and un-political approach to this election was a strong pull for support. Many people voted for him because he represented something that was refreshing and not part of the conventional political system. His “successful businessman” status gave many Americans the belief that because he is incorporated, he is capable of running the most important country in the world.

O’Leary reflects a lot of these attributes, raising the concern that our politicians may also be replaced by TV personalities or mainstream media celebrities. Although a Canadian, after all, O’Leary enters the race for leadership of one of Canada’s three major parties as something of a carpetbagger. While his rivals are career politicians with records of formulating and promoting policy, the Shark Tank star — whose business acumen is sometimes disputed in the manner of Trump’s — comes with no experience whatsoever in the legislative realm.

The assumption that political leadership is just a glamour turn is a deeply disquieting one.