Yes, O'Leary Should Run
Self-made Canadian millionaire, Kevin O'Leary, recently suggested that he might throw in a bid to lead the Conservative Party. Although the feedback has been generally positive, some party supporters haven't been feeling the love. One such supporter is The Rebel's Brian Lilley. The pundit suggested that O'Leary has never identified as conservative and, therefore, shouldn't be considered by Conservative faithfuls. Lilley is one of the more tolerable conservative pundits at The Rebel, mostly because he usually takes a smooth, balanced libertarian approach to things. But in this case, Lilley's position on O'Leary's leadership bid is completely wrong.
Kevin O'Leary is a rigid fiscal conservative. Just because he calls himself a political agnostic doesn't change that fact. He's also outspoken, honest and fearless. To make his leadership bid even more appealing, he has an established fan base from Dragon's Den and Shark Tank. This is a part of Brian Lilley's assertion that O'Leary's bid is the result of the “Trump Effect”. Lilley, like a lot of other Canadian conservatives, has a default setting in his brain that automatically causes him to dismiss anything and everything Trump. Rona Ambrose suffers from the same superiority complex that suggests Canadian conservatives are somehow “too smart” to embrace Donald Trump. .
“I understand what he is doing with the media and you can certainly claim that I'm trying to do the same, but I am not Donald Trump. I'm a Lebanese-Irish, I don't build walls, I am very proud of the society we're building in Canada. I think it's the envy of the planet.” – Kevin O'Leary, January 14, 2016
The argument that Kevin O'Leary is Canada's Trump is entirely irrelevant. He isn't Donald Trump, he's Kevin O'Leary. It's far too easy to connect the two because of their similarities. It's unlikely that O'Leary would recommend banning all Muslim immigrants or building a wall along any border. A closer look at O'Leary's life suggests that he might see a dollar value attached to all immigrants, regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds. A closer look at O'Leary might reveal an appreciation for Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman.
The philosophies of Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman suggest that discrimination based on ethnic and religious grounds is economically unwise, because money doesn't discriminate. Dollars don't care what colour our skin is or which god we worship. Discrimination on such lines limits profit in the business world. Since Kevin O'Leary is a tenured businessman, he understands that discrimination isn't profitable. That could change if Canada ever experiences a large scale terrorist attack – but for now, Kevin O'Leary doesn't subscribe to Trump's religious segregation.
Media has gone as far as saying O'Leary shouldn't run because he's too abrasive or because a Trump-like campaign wouldn't work in Canada. Again, this is all irrelevant. O'Leary isn't trying to be Trump.
If O'Leary reminds Canadians of anyone, it shouldn't be Donald Trump. O'Leary's essence as a businessman is more reminiscent of the late Milton Friedman. Any social policies O'Leary might espouse would likely fall along libertarian lines. This means an openness to gay marriage, free association and freedom of religion. This doesn't equate to an openness to political correctness and reverse discrimination. O'Leary wouldn't bend to the whims of social justice warriors and their one-sided take on progressive policy.
Kevin O'Leary is a businessman who chose the Conservative Party, not the NDP. His own words have offered more evidence of what he stands for than the words of pundits describing him.
“My problem with unions is that they breed mediocrity.” – Kevin O'Leary
“Nobody forces you to work at Wal-Mart. Start your own business. Sell something to Wal-Mart.” – Kevin O'Leary
“Many blue collar families struggling with rent would be happy to skip paying union dues.” – Kevin O'Leary
“You can't regulate a soul into a business.” – Kevin O'Leary
“It's imperative that we not destroy the commons, the physical environment on which we rely.” – Kevin O'Leary
Listening to O'Leary speak for five minutes is enough to warm the heart of any fiscal conservative. Pundits and some in the Conservative Party establishment are sure to resent O'Leary for reasons of their own. For some of the party's leadership hopefuls, he's probably viewed as unfair competition. He has a celebrity status and a brand that trumps their own. From O'Leary's point of view, if they can't compete, too bad for them. If their ideas and principles are stronger than O'Leary's, they should have no problem defeating him in a fair and open leadership contest.
If the current slate of Conservative leadership hopefuls can't convince small and big C conservatives that their principles and values would make the party better, then they should lose to O'Leary. If the party is aiming for transparency and fairness, they'll encourage O'Leary to run. They'll let nature run its course and let the political environment reward or punish those within it.