Kevin O'Leary will be an exciting leadership candidate, but...

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
January 19, 2017 - 5:05am

KAMLOOPS — Can Kevin O’Leary save the Conservative party, vanquish Justin Trudeau and make Canada great again?

The controversial multi-millionaire and reality TV star officially entered the race for leadership of the party on Wednesday after a year of playing coy. The man who makes million-dollar decisions at a moment’s notice on Shark Tank deliberated for months on end on whether he wants to be Canada’s next prime minister.

O’Leary will bring excitement to the leadership race, no doubt about it. There are 14 candidates in the running — can you name one of them besides O’Leary? Maybe Kellie Leitch?

The reason she comes to mind is that — among other insane ideas — she wants to screen immigrants and refugees to make sure they have “Canadian values.” She’ll have to go some, though, to match O’Leary’s skill at attracting attention.

He is an outspoken, exasperating, self-entitled, disagreeable man. When aspiring entrepreneurs come before the Shark Tank panel he routinely destroys their dreams with putdowns and name-calling, referring to them as “cockroaches.”

If he wins the leadership and the next election, there will be an “exorcism” in Ottawa, he says.

That kind of talk inevitably leads to comparisons to Donald Trump. O’Leary doesn’t appreciate the comparison — for one thing, he has no intention of building a wall along our border with the U.S.

While O’Leary is experienced at being harsh on those who don’t measure up to his standards — and one of them is Justin Trudeau, who has, he says, made a hash of things and heads up a caucus “loaded with mediocrity” — comparing him to Trump sets a lofty bar.

Don’t expect O’Leary to insult women, physically handicapped reporters, or religious and ethnic minorities. He will very likely stick to his political opponents, which will be a refreshing difference between here and what’s going on down south.

But O’Leary is without an iota of political experience, and doesn’t speak French. He is, however, good with one-liners. For example, there are three languages in Canada, he says: English, French and Jobs.

And therein might be his greatest weakness. He is fixated on business and money, by his own admission. Everything comes down to dollars. That should make for some great debates over jobs and the economy, but prime ministers need to be renaissance politicians, balancing economic needs with things like the environment and social issues.

O’Leary will be an erratic, exciting candidate, and he’ll probably win his party’s leadership. But an effective prime minister? No.