Waters: Kevin O’Leary is no Donald Trump

Canadian businessman says he's mulling a bid for the leadership of the Conservative Party.

It has been said—mainly by Americans—that the U.S. leads and the rest of the world follows. And judging by some of the changes Canada has experienced over the last 20 years, there may be some truth to that.

There’s no denying—despite popular, pro-Canada rants such as those delivered by Rick Mercer, Maple Leaf-waving, chest-thumping patriotic beer commercials and the current international round of “cool Canada” Trudeaumania II, Canada is much more American than it used to be.

Like the U.S., we have a Supreme Court that makes or breaks laws put in place by our elected officials, we are becoming a more litigious society, our last prime minister acted more like a president at odds with Congress in his relationship with the House of Commons than the mere leader of the party with a majority in Parliament. And don’t get me started with the level of control U.S. companies have over our economy.

Sure, we still have many key differences—like a medical insurance system that works, a social safety net, a federal law allowing you to marry who you love regardless of gender, sane gun laws, beer with real alcohol levels, and, of course, Coffee Crisp.

But as Justin Trudeau’s daddy once said, living next door to the U.S. is like being in bed with an elephant. We have to be careful when it rolls over.

So, it’s not surprising we now have our own version of a self-absorbed businessman-turned-television celebrity who wants to run the country.

But to say former Dragon’s Den TV investor Kevin O’Leary is Donald Trump light, is rather insulting—to the word light.

While Trump wants to build a wall to keep Mexicans out of the U.S.—people he described as rapists—and ban Muslims from entering the country—not to mention insulting anyone who questions him, including more than half the U.S. population i.e. women, O’Leary has so far only targeted Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley for his version of headline-grabbing quips. And he did it with a shockingly polite, albeit insulting and self-serving gesture.

In a nutshell, he’ll invest $1 million in the Alberta oil sands if Notley quits.

To paraphrase former U.S. vice-presidential candidate Lloyd Benson when he famously responded to his Republican counterpart Dan Quayle in an election debate when Quayle invoked the memory of former president John F. Kennedy: Sir, I heard Donald Trump and Kevin O’Leary is no Donald Trump.

O’Leary may be muling a run for the Conservative Party leadership but if he carries through I can’t see the Canadian electorate investing their votes in his political venture.

Talk about “just not ready.” O’Leary would make political lightweights seem like veteran Ottawa heavyweights.

O’Leary’s consideration of a run for leader of Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition seems more like a ratings bid for whatever show he’s currently hosting than it does a serious bid to emulate “The Donald.”

While Trump is a billionaire who figures he knows better, O’Leary, as he himself pointed out recently, is not. He just played a billionaire on Dragon’s Den.

It seems he’s not a politician either, he’s just playing one to keep his name in lights.

Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.