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Listen Up, O'Leary: Democracy Doesn't Fit On A Spreadsheet

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KEVIN OLEARY
CNBC via Getty Images
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Kevin O'Leary premiers his new reality show this weekend -- an all-too real show, in fact.

The man who made a name for himself as the loudest and most offensive cast member of the Dragon's Den reality TV show will be testing the waters at the Conservative Party convention this weekend for a possible leadership bid.

He would be a terrible leader. Terrible for the Conservatives and terrible for the national debate in this country. Being offensive and insensitive to the very real needs and wishes of Canadians is not leadership and it's certainly not prime ministerial.

It's childish. Rather than engage in real debate about the issues of the day, O'Leary dismisses those who disagree with him as "stupid," "an idiot" or "insane," and writes off the very Conservative supporters he'll be courting this weekend as "losers."

These are the rantings of a child not getting the toy he wants, not an adult who wants to play a constructive role in guiding this country's future. O'Leary says he wants to bring "adult supervision" to spending in Ottawa, but it's him who really needs the adult supervision.

In O'Leary's world, everything can be reduced to one question: How much will it cost me?

For all the damage he is likely to do to the Conservative Party, I am tempted to wish him the best of luck in his pursuit of the leadership. As I have said before, he would at least be an honest choice for the leadership of the Conservative Party.

That's because, like Donald Trump in the U.S. (a man he says he admires), O'Leary exposes the ugly underbelly of modern conservatism, characterized by nastiness and divisiveness -- emotions exploited by the likes of Stephen Harper to hold onto power for nearly a decade.

In O'Leary's world, everything can be reduced to one question: How much will it cost me?

He sees no nuance, no competing interests, no issues that people might put ahead of cost, or for which people might want to figure out a way to cover any added cost.

To him, "all other issues are irrelevant," effectively dismissing anyone who sees their community as more than a spreadsheet in need of balancing.

This is a man who would let companies such as Bombardier go bankrupt if they don't go along with what he prescribes, without regard for the thousands of families and their communities across Canada who would be devastated if that were to happen.

O'Leary may dream of a day when all Canadians share his cynical view that the only thing we should ever care about is our own selfish needs.

Speaking at an invite-only event last week, O'Leary's style of leadership was on full display when he said, "My attitude is, 'look, leave me alone, I'll fix it.'"

This from a man who once said that half a billion people living in poverty is "fantastic news," that anyone joining a union should be thrown in jail and that only the rich should be eligible to run for public office -- as if no one with less than $5 million has anything of worth to say.

None of this is how democracy works. But that's something O'Leary seems determined to not understand.

The fact is, Canada is a better country than O'Leary would have us believe. Canadians are kinder and fairer than he would give us credit for being.

O'Leary may dream of a day when all Canadians share his cynical view that the only thing we should ever care about is our own selfish needs, without regard to how it affects our neighbours or the type of community such attitudes create.

But most Canadians have a more adult view of the world, and we won't let a man-child like O'Leary change that.

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