April 19th, 2018

O’Leary playing games with CPC leadership to the detriment of other candidates

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on January 7, 2017.

Utilize the washroom facilities, or get off the pot — it’s a cleaned-up version of a phrase not suitable for the pages of the News, yet applicable to Canadian business “celebrity” Kevin O’Leary who has for more than a year now mused about running for leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Since Stephen Harper stepped down following the Liberal sweep to power more than a year ago, 13 folks have stepped forward, put their names on the line and put time and effort to winning the leadership. The deadline to register is Feb. 24, with the leader chosen on May 27.

Meanwhile O’Leary has been playing Canada for the past year with his not-so-coy expressions of interest in running. And why not? Even if he doesn’t ultimately run for the leadership position, it’s meant his name has been in the headlines and on people’s lips when he would otherwise be forgotten. He gets attention and a higher national profile without ever paying a penny.

Which helps him if he does decide to toss his hat in the ring.

He’s also had more than a year to make haphazard commentary on political issues. He doesn’t have to back his words up with actual policy ideas or framework. He doesn’t have to attend leadership debates where he would be challenged, not be in control and have to go beyond scripted publicity stunts.

Conservative leadership hopeful Andrew Scheer put it much more politely that O’Leary needs to “fish or cut bait” — especially in the leadup to the French leadership debate on Jan. 17. Scheer has stated O’Leary, who is unilingual, is avoiding the debate — and rightly calls this unacceptable to French-speaking Conservatives.

By not officially declaring his intentions, O’Leary has so far avoided the level of scrutiny and vetting other candidates face. It’s probably a smart move on O’Leary’s part.

If one big criticism of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is that he’s no-substance celebrity-styled attention loving flash, O’Leary is on the exact same page. The millionaire, best known for the time spent on the reality TV show “Dragons’ Den,” has bombastically claimed to be a business whiz, when his actual track record — such as the “O’Leary Funds” — is laughable and easy ammunition other candidates could use when defending their party’s name as being one of fiscal responsibility.

It was only this past December when O’Leary finally launched an “exploratory committee” to see if he should run, something he should have done a year ago.

Meanwhile, other candidates — agree with their views or not — have been putting their boots on the ground and money where their mouth is to fight for the leadership and earn votes. As they should. That’s what Conservative party members deserve, that’s what Canadians deserve from the party that will serve as official opposition. Substance and hard work.

Not a man grasping for headlines and playing with the public.

(Peggy Revell is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to http://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions.)

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