Kevin O'Leary of 'Shark Tank,' echoing Trump, enters Canada's Conservative race
TORONTO - Canada's self-appointed "Mr. Wonderful," a millionaire businessman and reality TV star who has proposed selling seats in the Canadian Senate, on Wednesday, Jan. 18, joined the crowded race to lead the opposition Conservatives in 2019 el...
TORONTO - Canada's self-appointed "Mr. Wonderful," a millionaire businessman and reality TV star who has proposed selling seats in the Canadian Senate, on Wednesday, Jan. 18, joined the crowded race to lead the opposition Conservatives in 2019 elections, vowing to make Canadian business more competitive.
Kevin O'Leary, known for his appearances on reality shows "Shark Tank" and "Dragons' Den," where aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas, is often compared to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in style, wealth and self-promotion.
"It's official, I'm in. The Conservative Party of Canada needs a candidate who can beat (Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau and bring back jobs to this country!" O'Leary tweeted.
In a video posted on his Facebook page, O'Leary spoke over a ringing siren, which he said was a warning about the impact Trump's trade policies would have on Canada.
"It means that we have to pivot, we have to be competitive. While he's lowering taxes, we're raising them. While he's eliminating carbon taxation, we're making it even more expensive to operate a business here."
Montreal-born O'Leary is the fourteenth candidate in the Conservative leadership election, scheduled to be held May 27, 2017. The candidate chosen by party members will be their flag bearer for the October 2019 general election, against Trudeau's Liberals.
"I think he'll be a serious contender," said Frank Graves, president of pollster Ekos. "He's a good communicator, obviously, and he may well be able to catch this populist wave that propelled Trump and Brexit to victory."
An Ekos poll from last April showed that 17 percent of Conservative party supporters chose O'Leary as their preferred candidate, but the race has shifted dramatically since then.
Former government minister and surgeon Kellie Leitch has vaulted to the front of the race by pushing a hard-right "Canadian values" platform that taps into discontent over the sluggish economy and Canada's acceptance of 37,000 Syrian refugees.
After nearly a decade in power, the leadership of the Conservative party opened up when Prime Minister Stephen Harper stepped down after his party's 2015 defeat.