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Why Kevin O’Leary is the Canadian Answer to Donald Trump

  • Sam Mire
  • Jan 28, 2017 10:00AM

Canadians have tired of Justin Trudeau’s radical liberalism. Even as an American observer the frustration over a skyrocketing national debt, carbon taxes leading to eye-popping electricity (“hydro,” when in Canada) bills, and stunted economic growth is palpable.

These valid complaints with Trudeau were far from beneath the surface, even before the Aga Khan helicopter controversy emerged.

The effects of the Canadian Liberal Party’s heavy-handed taxes on fossil fuels have already resulted in business and families’ quality of life suffering immensely.

Just watch this video of a single mom begging Trudeau at a town hall meeting to correct his misguided energy policies.

This wrongheaded and unrelenting dedication to ridding the nation of fossil fuels- regardless of the economic penalty imposed upon Canadians- is just one of the issues that have caused Canada’s second youngest Prime Minister to be detested in non-liberal circles.

For Americans, the parallels between Trudeau and Barack Obama are striking, and not just when it comes to energy policy.

They both were elected in their 40s, with relatively little experience in the upper echelon of government.

It is undeniable that both men benefitted from youthful good looks more so than their reputations as strong policymakers.

And, perhaps most importantly, they both have spent their nation’s money like it was a renewable resource, with little economic growth to show for their “deficit spending.”

Just as Americans decided that it was time to let a businessman try his hand at running the country, Canadians appear poised to take the same leap of faith.

America’s neighbor to the north even boasts a native son that could be the answer to America’s newly inaugurated president.

Kevin O’Leary, the acerbic, financially prudent multimillionaire of Shark Tank fame (not to mention its Canadian predecessor Dragon’s Den), has announced that he will be running for leader of the Conservative Party in 2017 and likely Prime Minister in the 2019 election.

A reality television personality, who reached celebrity status because of his fortune and penchant for biting commentary, running for the highest political office in the nation.

Sound familiar?

It is also noteworthy that O’Leary’s decision to run was largely motivated by Trump’s election. At the very least, the policies expected to be enacted by Trump’s administration in the near future have led to a sense of urgency for a shift in Canadian ideology:

“There will be no carbon taxation in Detroit, in any of the shale states,” O’Leary said of Trump’s intended policies. “We are going in the wrong direction in Canada…we are going into competition in oil and gas with the United States and they have no carbon tax.”

While Trump plans to scale back regulation and taxation on the oil industry, Trudeau continues to punish his own people by enacting carbon taxes that continue to further discourage businesses from operating within Canada’s borders.

O’Leary is not the only one who can see that Canada’s economy is headed for an even deeper dip.

After a calendar year which saw the steepest monthly decline in Canada’s GDP since 2009, a stagnation in wage growth, loss of tens of thousands of jobs, and continued decline in factory sales, a greater economic downturn should be a sobering reality for Canucks.

O’Leary sees the writing on the wall when it comes to corporate flight:

“Let’s say you want to build a new car plant…the chance of you putting it in Ontario, where you’re going to be taxed twice of Detroit and you’ve got carbon tax, we are so screwed if we don’t move immediately,” O’Leary added.

This message- that financially suppressive green energy policies take a nation out of competition for luring factories and corporations, sacrificing jobs in the process- is the same viewpoint that largely propelled Trump to victory.

The question is whether Canadians see O’Leary as a capable leader. He is going to be pitted against 14 other candidates in the Conservative party alone.

An ample field of qualified candidates, one of which is an internationally known television figure, not a pure politician.

Sound familiar, Americans?

While the similarities between America’s current president and one particular Canadian candidate are clear, it is O’Leary himself who wants to ensure the differences between he and the Donald are not buried.

After all, he is running for Prime Minister of Canada, and while inextricably linked to the United States, it is a nation with its own set of unique issues and needs.

Trudeau’s open-armed embrace of Syrian refugees reached a rate of 2,746 per month as of December. 50 to 90 percent of those refugees are expected to receive social assistance from their respective provinces in 2017.

Still, it does not appear that stanching the flow of immigrants will be a core platform for O’Leary as it was for Trump.

As he has pointed out, his roots make him a different figure than Trump, who is himself the grandson of German immigrants.

“I’m actually born from Lebanese and Irish immigrants,” O’Leary has repeated. “If there were walls in Canada, I wouldn’t exist. It’s that simple.”

Asked about Donald Trump comparisons:

“No, I’m not Donald Trump. There’s no way to measure me. Our problems are different. Our problem is jobs in Canada. We don’t have any jobs in Canada.”

Regardless of what O’Leary says, he and President Trump have much in common, from their economic policies to their political inexperience and much in between.

Like America under its previous president, a progressive souring towards the liberal policies of Prime Minister Trudeau long ago emerged. Trudeau’s approval rating has dropped to a personal all-time low of 48 percent.

Whether Canada is ready to elect a leader with much more experience in the entrepreneurial realm than the political arena is yet to be seen.

If O’Leary is elected leader of the Conservative Party, let alone Prime Minister, it will be seen in part as a consequence of America’s decision to put Donald Trump in the White House. For this alone, they would be forever linked.

Should O’Leary eventually become Prime Minister of Canada, he will no doubt be considered the Donald Trump of Canada, whether he finds the title flattering or not.