Conservative Party of Canada leadership front-runner Kevin O’Leary promised to deliver “jobs, jobs, jobs” to supporters in Ottawa Tuesday night.
The businessman and television star of “Shark Tank” formally inaugurated his leadership campaign at Ottawa’s Infinity Centre and drew a standing-room only crowd of over 1,000 cheering party stalwarts.
To tumultuous applause he declared: “There’s no way in hell I’m going to allow Justin Trudeau to get away with what he’s doing to this country.”
O’Leary promised to scrap any national carbon tax that Trudeau is planning to implement, calling it a “tax on productivity.”
He decried the debt that the current prime minister is amassing and suggested that Trudeau “lied to you when he said you wouldn’t have to sit in your basement without a job. He hasn’t delivered. He also lied to you about the debt that he is leaving you and your children.”
Then, using a phrase that proved to be a winner for former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in the 1984 general election, O’Leary said, “I am promising not more debt but jobs, jobs, jobs.”
O’Leary only entered the crowded leadership race of 13 other candidates last week but he is already been dubbed the front-runner after a series of polls identified him as not only the most popular public choice to lead the party but the only candidate capable of defeating Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a general election.
But it’s party members who will be determining who leads the Conservatives when a nation-wide vote is held on May 27. Only people who have joined the party by March 28 will be eligible to participate in what is technically a one-member/one vote system but is complicated by results being adjusted on a regional basis.
The challenge for O’Leary is to build a membership base in the next two months.
He promised to do that, saying that party membership had fallen from a high of 350,000 when past leader Stephen Harper was prime minister. “It’s fallen to under 100,000 today and I’m here tonight to tell you that we’re gong to bring it back to where it was under Prime Minister Harper,” he said.