Kathleen Wynne Slams Kevin O'Leary In Open Letter

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Ontario's Liberal premier has written an open letter to newly announced candidate for Conservative leadership Kevin O'Leary criticizing his proposed policies and comments he made about Ontario's auto sector.

Kathleen Wynne wrote that she thinks O'Leary believes the government's role should be to serve "society's most well-off,'' based on policies he's outlined thus far.

kathleen wynne
Premier Kathleen Wynne speaks during a news conference on April 16, 2015.

O'Leary announced that he's running for Conservative leadership last week.

Wynne wrote the letter in response to comments she said O'Leary made to media, though she didn't give specifics about which media outlets.

She said O'Leary was "inaccurate on just about every count'' when he told media that Ontario falls behind Michigan when it comes to investment in the auto sector.

She closed off the letter by welcoming the former "Dragon's Den'' and current "Shark Tank'' star to the political arena.

"I respect anyone who is willing to enter the den,'' she wrote.

Here's the full text of Wynne's open letter:

Dear Mr. O’Leary

I wanted to write to congratulate you on your decision to enter politics and offer a reply to some of the comments you have made recently in reference to Ontario.

For example, I noticed that you told one media outlet that our province trails Michigan when it comes to auto sector investment because, in your words, business there enjoys, “30% less in tax, no regulations and no carbon tax.”

In fact, that’s inaccurate on just about every count. As it turns out, Ontario has attracted roughly $2 billion worth of new auto sector investment in the last few months alone — far outpacing Michigan. Indeed, over the past five years, Ontario has accounted for 14.6% of all the auto production in North America, surpassing the share enjoyed by any other jurisdiction on either side of the border including — you guessed it — Michigan.

It’s true that there is no carbon tax in Michigan but our program to cap the emissions of industry is far less expensive and much more effective than the new carbon tax your fellow Conservatives have promised to introduce. It costs families less. Our plan will also produce $8.3 billion — every dollar of which will be reinvested into clean energy and new job creation. This kind of investment has enabled Ontario to become a leading destination for electric car assembly and production. That’s another category in which we lead our friends from Michigan. As for taxes, businesses in Ontario pay a combined federal and provincial rate of 28.5%. That’s significantly below the 38.9% they pay in Michigan.

Incidentally, Michigan does have regulations. Lots of them. Just like any other jurisdiction — to protect consumers from abusive business practices, protect clean water and breathable air and ensure basic standards of health and safety.

I know that responding to you with such facts runs the risk of missing the point. On American game shows and reality TV, no one expects their words to be taken literally — or even seriously. But for the millions of working families in Ontario who rely upon the auto sector to put bread on their table, I thought it was worth pointing out that your statements have been quite incorrect.

On a more general note, I will be curious to see how your ideas are received. Your policies so far suggest that serving society’s most well-off should be the sole role of government. I see things differently. I want an economy that keeps growing, creating and attracting good jobs. But I want an Ontario that rewards as many people as possible — where everyone who works hard can benefit and where opportunity is shared widely. In this respect, it’s exciting to see that Ontario is leading the country in both economic growth and job creation.

In closing, I want to welcome you to politics once again. I mean that sincerely. I respect anyone who is willing to enter the den.

Kathleen Wynne

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