When the Conservative party elects a new leader, it will be an important decision for the party’s future. Should the membership decide that reality TV star Kevin O’Leary is the best choice to carry the party forward, they will have to contend with the party’s own past. Attack ads against O’Leary have already been written, and they’re quite effective. Problem is, the Conservatives wrote them.
When the time comes to campaign against a Conservative party lead by O’Leary, the Liberal party war room won’t need late nights and bad take out to get by. Conservative strategists have already extolled everything wrong with a leader like O’Leary. When they did it they just happened to be talking about Stéphane Dion, Michael Ignatieff, and Justin Trudeau.
When running as Liberal leader, Stéphane Dion put forward a strategy for addressing climate change called the “Green Shift.” Conservative attack ads at the time lampooned Dion for raising the price of everything with his carbon tax. Jurisdictions both in Canada and abroad eventually endorsed such a program to combat climate change. None, however, have gone as far as O’Leary by proposing that companies that don’t reduce emissions “go to jail.” While the law and order approach normally appeals to Conservatives, the environmental motive is one they have actively campaigned against.
Speaking of green, O’Leary has made it clear that he supports the legalization of marijuana. Good for him — so do I — still, it will be hard for the Conservatives to portray the Prime Minister as Canada’s dealer-in-chief if O’Leary is holding the rolling papers.
Much has been made about O’Leary’s residency and great affection for the city of Boston. Say what you want about Ignatieff — Conservatives certainly did — Iggy came back. The Toronto Star recently revealed, win or lose, O’Leary may not even do that much. Also, if we want to talk about why each man was in Boston, I think most would say the Harvard professor at the Kennedy School of Government is more qualified than the money man turned reality TV star.
During the federal election in 2015, you may have heard Conservatives suggest that Justin Trudeau was not ready. By “may have” I mean people living on the far side of the moon likely caught the infamous “Just Not Ready” ads. If the Conservatives didn’t think Trudeau’s seven years as an MP, and two years as party leader were enough experience, what does that say about O’Leary’s zero years of experience at either?
Yes, O’Leary has business experience — of debatable merit — however government is not a business. Economics clearly play a critical role for any government, so to does the day to day lives of Canadians. Something not easily measured solely by profit and loss. Without any record of public service to judge him on O’Leary is lacking experience where it matters most for anyone looking to lead this country.
Electing Kevin O’Leary as their leader would put the Conservative party on the defensive immediately, as reporters and politicians alike rightfully question the apparent hypocrisy in electing an inexperienced limelight lover from Boston. As we saw last week, the Conservative party had issues with hypocrisy on an individual scale. They should avoid sanctioning hypocrisy as a party plank, by electing someone their own ads have already made a case against.
Conservatives deserve a leader who speaks to their values, who has the experience needed to serve as party leader, and who can present a realistic alternative to Trudeau as Prime Minister. Kevin O’Leary is none of those things, and Conservatives have already shown they know that.