He may not have called the field of candidates seeking to fill the star-spangled shoes of Stephen Harper “nothing-burgers”, but he will if he gets serious about rumbling with them.
And it hasn’t happened yet, but the Conservative party will have “a future in bad theatre”, if the man who views his money as soldiers he sends out every day to take prisoners ever becomes Conservative leader.
For those people in the shallow end of the gene pool who confuse O’Leary’s smash-mouth put downs with the path to regaining power, this caution: O’Leary will never become prime minister of Canada – as hard as people like former premier Mike Harris, ex-Senator Marjorie LeBreton, and all the others on his Explora-Deplorable Committee might try.
That’s because calling Liberals “pigs” as O’Leary once did to guests on his reality TV show is not a winning strategy beyond the borders of the Divided States of America. Canadians don’t fall for vulgar blowhards, no matter how much money they have.
O’Leary’s version of bilingualism, speaking “English” and “Business,” is not likely to trigger O’Learymania in Quebec. And it is doubtful that Vladimir Putin will help O’Leary to ‘Make Canada Great Again’ by hacking into the Liberal Party’s email, or floating news stories that Justin Trudeau is really a jihadist agent who grows marijuana in his basement.
Consider his rantings on behalf of the Corporate Kleptocracy against Rachel Notley. The Alberta premier is to blame for Alberta’s skyrocketing unemployment rate, the plummeting dollar, and yes, Calgary’s loss in the Grey Cup.
Not a word about Conservative politicians in Alberta who let foreign multinationals cash in on the tar sands with pathetically low royalty rates (compare Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund to Alberta’s), and who never thought to diversify the provincial economy against the day when the oil wealth would be gone. Forty years of never asking the “what if” question.
O’Leary’s answer to Notley’s alleged screw ups – even more spineless concessions to the oil patch. On new oil and gas production capital expenditures, he wants to let the investor write off the entire investment in the year it occurred, and give a 36-month royalty “holiday” on any new capital investment. Increase the already gaudy returns for investors and all will be well.
Bottom line? O’Leary will flounder in the Smart Tank because he knows squat about Canada and is about as homegrown as a banana. He is a de facto American trying to rewrite the history of the War of 1812. Instead of getting even for the burning of Washington, O’Leary merely wants to muck out Ottawa with a spatula, which is a strange implement of choice for a dragon, right? A tongue of flame, a swishing tail, raking claws, sure. But a spatula?
And why should O’Leary delay announcing his entry into the CPC leadership race until after the French-language debate just because he doesn’t speak French? Whenever his turn came to speak, he could just hold up his bank book and show Quebeckers the balance. In O’Leary’s world, money talks and bull roar perambulates. How else could he actually say that he understands what Quebecers want?
Remember, this is a guy who thinks the sacred duty of rich people is to act as role models for poor people. Who can forget how O’Leary publicly applauded a report that pointed out that the world’s 85 richest people had as much wealth as 3.5 billion of the poorest people on the planet? That’s right, 3.5 billion uneducated people without enough food and water was “fantastic news.” The Lang and O’Leary Report, now defunct, said so. Gotta love the CBC – Ghomeshi, Lang, and Mr. Wonderful himself. What’s next, a show for Ann Coulter?
Guys who love money stick together in defending the excesses of their own class. Donald Trump called his son Barron, perhaps after the Robber Barons, the prime actors in the golden age of American financial piracy.
As for O’Leary, while he is quick to give advice to the legions of losers who have nothing, (to improve the poor beggars you understand), he is silent at the news that Canada’s top CEOs make more in half a day’s work than the average Canadian will make in a year. Someone should ask the Messiah of Moolah what he thinks of the fact that corporate CEOs make 193 times the average wage of their workers?
Is Michael Pearson of Valeant Pharmaceuticals really worth $182.9 million in total compensation for a year? Is Donald Walker of Magna International worth $26.5 million? Is Hunter Harrison of Canadian Pacific worth $19.9 million?
But since O’Leary is better acquainted with the American corporate landscape, that Jurassic Park of plutocratic predators, let me offer an example closer to home. Is Tyrannosaurus Rex Tillerson really worth a $180 million separation package from Exxon-Mobil should he be confirmed as Secretary of State in the Trump cabinet?
O’Leary would of course give Tillerson the Good Multi-Millionaire Seal of Approval with entre-manurial gusto. So who does this carpetbagging Bostonian blame when it comes to wrecking the economy, which by the way, isn’t wrecked at all? That would be unions. No one should be surprised that O’Leary promises that he would ban unions 15 minutes after becoming prime minister.
This is a combination of Trump trash talk and Harper-era delusional thinking. Neither O’Leary nor anyone else can do away with unions because the Charter of Rights as interpreted by the Supreme Court guarantees the right of people to join unions.
O’Leary should bear in mind that Harper tried to lob several legislative molotov cocktails at organized labour, only to have his agenda found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. He ended up looking like a politician who didn’t know the difference between a policy and a tantrum. When it comes to unions in Canada, O’Leary doesn’t know a certain bodily orifice from a hole in the ground.
While O’Leary’s threat to ban unions is empty, it is interesting to note where the sentiment comes from. Like all else with this guy, it emanates directly from the Republican cantons of the United States. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker wrote the playbook on union-busting and Republicans in states like Kentucky have followed suit with so-called “right to work” legislation. This is where O’Leary’s zealotry against unions comes from, certainly not a careful review of reality in this country.
CPC leadership candidate Lisa Raitt has called O’Leary’s pronouncements “irresponsible populism.” That’s a nice way of saying that if the Conservatives want a trip to Hell, O’Leary will supply the hand-basket.
It’s also a message to party colleagues: invest in this guy at our peril.
Author: Michael Harris