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Is Kevin O’Leary our Trump-lite?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UWindsor chapter.

So we all know Kevin O’Leary, right? He’s one of the venture capitalists on Dragon’s Den, that in my opinion, is a bit rude. He’s like the Simon Cowell of the show. Lately O’Leary has been in the media quite a lot, but not because of the show or any of his businesses. Rather because he has now entered the world of politics. Yup, you heard that right, politics. O’Leary has joined in the race to become the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

To be completely honest here, I’m not a Conservative, so I don’t really follow their platform and journey. Nonetheless, I am aware of the basics, so I’m not clueless and ignorant. However, this time around all I seem to see are posts about Trump-O’Leary comparisons so I can’t help but be engaged.

The entire situation with our neighbours to the south is alarming. When I see these comparisons it makes me feel like we’re feeling the “Trump effect,” especially since I do see some parallels between Trump and O’Leary. I mean for one, they are both businessmen and reality TV stars. Secondly, they both have no political experience or qualifications whatsoever. Lastly, they are both braggarts that have more swagger than actual substance. Thus, it does seem like O’Leary is a Trump-lite bully. But behind his pompous displays, is he actually?

When I first heard that O’Leary was in the Conservative race, I kind of got a little anxious. Automatically the Trump-O’Leary comparisons flooded my mind.  I know that racism, sexism and ignorant thoughts aren’t just an American problem, but a Canadian one too. However as Canadians, we always seem to look at ourselves and feel better and comfortable because “[INSERT PROBLEM] isn’t happening here, it’s only an American issue”. Therefore, the idea that O’Leary is an excuse for Canadians to express ignorant views is absurd. Personally, I think it’s because his braggadocios demeanour is so similar to the 45th President of the United States. Everyone, including myself, seems to see is his boastfulness and narcissism. However, once you look past the braggadocio similarities they aren’t that akin.

O’Leary doesn’t really have any policy or reform ideas. The only subjects that he has commented on are in terms of the military, where he said “there’s nothing proud about being a warrior”.Continuing to address peacekeeping, he said, “I don’t want to bomb or get involved in any campaigns… other than keeping the peace”. On the topic of ISIS he claimed “the last nationality ISIS wants to put a bullet through is a Canadian”, etc. His views and his way of communication is not PM-like. He seems to be employing Trump’s campaign strategies by being loud and brash. As someone who’s politically aware of the social climate of Canada, I know that there is an excitement for something different in our government for some, yet there is also an excitement for our current leadership and all the work they have been doing. Because of this, I really do think O’Leary does stand a chance.

However, Canadian politics are much different than American politics. For one, Trump got elected as President by the people, while here, O’Leary has to run for the leadership of the party and serve as an MP before he can be our PM. O’Leary can’t play the same game Trump has who went from reality TV star to leader of the free world in the matter of an election. O’Leary has to actually become a politician if he wants to be the next Prime Minister of Canada, and in my opinion I don’t think he knows what that entails.  Personally I think he’s just trying to influence the party platform, rather than actually wanting to win. I think if he wins, he’ll shock himself and have to dive into a world he was not ready for.

Nonetheless, to me at least, I think the Trump-O’Leary comparisons should end at the brash arrogant businessman persona and tactics. He doesn’t really have too much in common with Trump in terms of policy. However his opponent in the Conservative race, Kellie Leitch, seems to be really similar to Trump’s views. She is saying all the stuff that Trump basically said, but because she’s not bolstering her views in a charismatic authority, like O’Leary does, it seems that people believe that O’Leary is our Trump-lite, when it’s actually Leitch.

O’Leary is still a blustering ignoramus, and even his former venture capitalist partner on Dragon’s Den, Arlene Dickinson, a Calgary-based entrepreneur and best-selling author said “I don’t want a leader that’s only in it for themselves. I do not want a leader who will cut and run when it’s in his best interest. I don’t want a leader who views our country as nothing more than a balance sheet”. Dickinson has worked alongside O’Leary for 7 years on reality TV and doesn’t seem to have anything nice to say about him. She goes on to say that he doesn’t have compassion and empathy and that he has a “lack of awareness of other people’s circumstances, the desire is to have it all about himself”. So I guess it’s safe to say that Dickinson is not someone who will be voting for O’Leary.

Overall, I don’t think that O’Leary is a Trump-lite. I think he has many similarities that pertain to his tactics and persona, but not his actual policy ideas. I think the real Trump-lite is Leitch once you actually listen for the words she’s saying, rather than how she’s saying it. The real question here is that although O’Leary may not be a Trump-lite, he still is a Canadian-style populist and is that really who we want representing a major party?

 *Disclaimer: Featured image is not mine. Retrieved here.

Gursimran is a fourth year student at the University of Windsor pursing a BSc in Biological Sciences and a minor in Psychology. Gursimran spends much of her free time volunteering in her community, spending time with family and friends, travelling and writing for her personal blog. She aspires to be a lawyer and eventually dive into the world of Canadian politics. Gursimran is passionate about human rights and bringing positive change to the world. She is an active citizen and aims to inspire and empower the youth to get engaged in global issues and be young drivers of change. Follow Gursimran on Instagram and make sure to check out her blog, Sincerely Simran!