An ArmchairMayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
ONE MIGHT have thought Kevin O’Leary’s political demise — at least for now — would have been a bigger deal. But his decision last week to drop out of the federal Conservative leadership race was basically a ho-hum thing.
When he declared his intention a few weeks ago to become the next leader of the party, and the next prime minister, a certain chill went through the country. Would Canada follow in the footsteps of Donald Trump?
O’Leary’s notorious focus on money, and his celebrity, were and are well-known. Name recognition isn’t everything, but it’s a good piece of it.
In hindsight, though, it was a flash in the pan that could have been predicted. O’Leary’s stated reason for withdrawing from the race is that if he could win the leadership, he couldn’t win a federal election because he doesn’t have enough support in Quebec.
No kidding. One would think anyone intending a serious effort to win leadership of a national party would have first taken the trouble to learn the country’s other official language. Instead, O’Leary simply skipped the French-language debates.
Neither did he articulate a clear vision for where he wanted to take the party and the country. His only clear message was that Justin Trudeau and the Liberals are bad for Canada, and that he, Kevin O’Leary, would be good.
Even though he was regarded by some as the front-runner, he never did mount a serious campaign, and the Quebec thing prevented “a path” to victory, as he put it. Therefore, he said, it was in the best interests of the party and the country for him to withdraw.
A lot of people were likely nodding in agreement. The country could have survived an O’Leary election campaign — and would almost certainly have soundly rejected him.
The Conservatives, however, not so much. A party that is already hanging on for dear life despite a healthy bank account would have faced potential oblivion with O’Leary as leader. So maybe ho-hum isn’t the right term for reaction to his decision to give up the fight; maybe sigh of relief is more appropriate.
Conservatives, no doubt, are feeling a lot more at ease these days now that the O’Leary issue has been settled.