Kevin O'Leary leaves a television studio following an interview in Toronto on Jan. 18, 2017. (Photo: Chris Young/CP)Case in point: on Tuesday, O'Leary met Conservative MPs, and later glad-handed with party members whose support he needs to become leader; this morning, he was planning to be on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange for the opening bell.
"I've built a trust over a decade with them on television, and to be able to explain our relationship in a unique way, in a way that they will trust. Trudeau? I'm better known in the U.S. than he is."Those conversations are part of a long game O'Leary said he's playing when it comes to carving out his path to victory in the Conservative leadership race, a campaign that comes to a close May 27 when members choose a permanent new leader. The moment O'Leary called his now-campaign chair to confirm he would run came just before Christmas, when the federal Finance Department issued a report predicting budget shortfalls until at least 2051, with debt levels exceeding $1.55 trillion. The thought of his two adult children buried by that kind of debt was unthinkable, O'Leary said. It's his kids — 20-year-old Trevor and 23-year-old Savannah — that seem to be serving as the touchpoints for O'Leary's nascent political campaign. He said he intends to win by targeting voters in the 18-to-35 demographic and convincing them to first join the party, and then to back him in 2019 for prime minister.
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How he might lead CanadaHe's already providing hints of what life might look like under an O'Leary majority government. A series of angry letters he's been trading with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who he blames for destroying the Ontario economy, is partially about setting a tone, he suggested. Any province that gets in the way of his plan to get the country to 3 per cent growth in GDP will feel the heat, he said. "Call me when you fix it or suffer the consequences of a prime minister with a big stick," O'Leary said. "There's many many tools you have as a prime minister — you start at transfer payments all the way down." Since announcing he was joining the race in late January, O'Leary said his campaign has signed up 9,000 members and raised $300,000, an effort he said that dwarfs that of any of the 13 other candidates in the race. Fundraising numbers released Tuesday show Maxime Bernier raised $586,000 during the final three months of 2016, with Kellie Leitch, the next closest candidate, came in at more than $355,000.