Conservative Party of Canada leadership front-runner Kevin O’Leary showed his “Shark Tank” teeth in Toronto on Friday afternoon.
The cross-border entrepreneur and ABC TV personality was speaking to the Empire Club about how much he despises “mediocre politicians,” Hollywood stars and wasteful government spending.
Before he was finished, the populist Canadian politician — who often talks in the style of President Donald Trump — had awakened everybody in the usually staid establishment club.
While outlining his economic plan for Canada, O’Leary roused the north of 50-year-old audience by insisting “Mediocre career politicians are in charge of our economy: politicians who have lived off government pay checks for their entire working lives, politicians who have never had to build something out of nothing,” he charged.
“People everywhere are waking up, and they want a different kind of leader. They are tired of politicians,” O’Leary told the crowd.
He really excited the crowd when he went after liberal film and television stars like Jane Fonda — who come to Canada to make political statements at the expense of economic development projects like the oil sands in Alberta.
“We will ensure projects of national importance aren’t delayed by global protest groups and Hollywood celebrities,” he said. “Don’t come up here to Canada and chain yourself to a pipeline construction fence — if I’m driving the bulldozer you might just get run over.”
O’Leary, who divides his time between business deals and an acting career in the U.S. and running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, said it’s time for elected politicians to start talking about issues “that matter to Canadians.”
Becasue “instead of leading with ideas and actions, they lead with platitudes and political correctness — it makes me sick,” O’Leary said.
Like Trump did in the U.S., O’Leary said Canada needs an outsider to take hold of the federal government, to reinvigorate the economy and move wages up.
O’Leary said he is that man.
“Canada doesn’t work without our economy growing at three percent. Our military, education and health care systems will always be underfunded and will continue into this black hole of debt,” he said.
“This means your grandchildren will take their first breath as Canadians $60,000 in debt.”
O’Leary described his five-fold economic plan encompassing the following: significant tax cuts; attracting and retaining top talent; investing in infrastructure; reducing regulations; and providing freer access to Canada’s natural resources.
In concurrence with all Conservative leadership candidates, the Montreal-born O’Leary also attacked rising taxes under Prime Minster Justin Trudeau.
“Politicians seem to have forgotten that tax dollars are actually our money, not some bottomless piggy bank,” he said. He reserved special criticism for Trudeau’s coming carbon tax, calling it a sham environmental measures that is just another way to extract money from Canadians.