THE BLOG

At Least An O'Leary Conservative Leadership Would Be Honest

01/15/2016 05:43 EST | Updated 01/15/2017 05:12 EST
Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 04: Kevin O'Leary, an investor on the television show 'Shark Tank' is seen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on the afternoon of March 4, 2014 in New York City. Stocks rebounded sharply today after dropping yesterday, on fears of a conflict between Russia and Ukraine. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Three and a half billion people living in desperate poverty is "fantastic news."

Only those who have met a big corporate payroll north of $5 million should aspire to political office. Only the rich need apply.

Throw anyone who joins a union in jail.

These are just a few of the musings of our would-be next prime minister, the Trump-loving Kevin O'Leary -- a man better known for his nasty opinions about everyone (besides himself) than for his financial acumen.

Everyone, it seems, except Republican U.S. presidential contender Donald Trump.

"I know Trump. I know his family. I've watched him work. I think he's smart as a fox," O'Leary has said.

That makes my head hurt.

Canadians watch the Republican race south of the border with a mix of bemusement and horror, and here's a guy who takes his lead from Trump, the frontrunner in a race defined by crazy pronouncements about walls along the border and banning Muslim visitors.

To be clear, just as the Republican Party of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney fertilized the ground for the rise of the Tea Party and Trump, the nastiness of the Harper Government has led directly to the day when a divisive and hateful man like O'Leary thinks he'd make a good prime minister.

His bid comes just as the hangover from the Harper years sets in at the Conservative Party, and its most prominent members are busily trying to rebrand themselves as something slightly less nasty than they've been for the last decade or so.

Interim Leader Rona Ambrose has suddenly discovered that an inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women is a good idea, despite saying nothing when Stephen Harper said an inquiry "isn't really high on our radar."

It is comforting to think that the nastiness of the right wing is confined to the fringes of our society.

Potential leadership contender Tony Clement has said he'll go along with the Liberal plan to bring back the long form census, despite lecturing the country on privacy when he cancelled the census just a few short years ago.

And Jason Kenney, a one-time Immigration minister, mused after his party's election loss that the Conservatives need to become "sunnier and more optimistic" if the ever want power again.

This from a man who just weeks earlier called wearing the niqab "medieval" and "tribal" -- a very un-sunny outlook.

That a man like Kevin O'Leary, famous for his nasty turn on the CBC's Dragon's Den TV show, would consider himself a good candidate to lead the Conservatives exposes what the right wing in this country is truly all about. He as leader would at least be an honest admission by the right about their true values.

Make no mistake. The Conservative Party today is no more sunny and optimistic than it ever was under Harper -- whose mean-spirited policies, uttered in soft tones and sweater vests, masked the dark underbelly of the right wing in this country.

It is comforting to think that the nastiness of the right wing is confined to the fringes of our society.

But by toying with running for the Conservative leadership, O'Leary blows that myth away and shows that the dark underbelly of the right extends into the very corridors of power and the rich businessmen who bankrolled the Conservative party under Harper.

As leader, O'Leary wouldn't paper over the ugliness of neo-Conservativism, as Harper did. In fact, he'd put that ugliness into the most powerful political office in this country.

If you doubt that, check out what he said once on Dragon's Den:

"You know, people say I'm the mean one but it's so unfair a characterization. The truth is I'm Mr. Wonderful and here's why: I'm pre-programmed to only speak the truth. I can't lie to anybody."

As Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said, bring it on.

Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

Conservative Leadership Candidates