Celebrity businessman Kevin O’Leary is throwing his hat into the crowded Federal Conservative Party leadership race, squaring off with established party members Maxime Bernier, Kellie Leitch and Lisa Raitt, among others. The former Bell Media and CBC commentator has struck an openly critical stance of the Prime Minister’s business acumen, insisting Justin Trudeau is ill-equipped to deal with President-elect Donald Trump’s incoming administration.

O’Leary had openly mulled joining the field in recent months, introducing an exploratory web campaign to determine public interest in his pursuit of a bid and drawing the ire of Raitt, who responded with a counter campaign by launching StopKevinOLeary.com. With his addition, there are now 14 candidates seeking the leadership. On Wednesday, O’Leary laid out some of his proposals in an interview with BNN. Here’s some of what he told us.

On why he entered the race now:

“I’ve been dabbling on the sidelines now for almost a year. I’ve been very critical of some of the economic and fiscal policy Trudeau has been putting in place. We’re now in a leadership race for the Conservative party, so time is an element, and I want to be able to sell memberships.”

On deficit spending:

“They’re not okay: the key is, you actually have to say to yourself, ‘What does it take to make sure that when you’re spending money, it’s a productive spend?’”

On bringing back income trusts:

“No, that ship has sailed. Don’t sweat the small stuff, that’s number 25 on my agenda.”

On encouraging a fourth telecom carrier:

“We don’t need four providers in this country. It doesn’t work in any other country our size, mandating failed companies; in other words, the CRTC saying we need a fourth or a third, is just sheer stupidity.”

On the CRTC’s ban on simultaneous substitution during the Super Bowl:

“The CRTC comes along and says, ‘No, no, no, you can’t let Canadian businesses advertise on the Super Bowl, we’re going to let Americans get free advertising in Canada.’ What the hell is that?”

[Editor’s note: BNN is a division of Bell Media, which owns Super Bowl broadcast rights in Canada.]

On foreign ownership of airlines:

“It turns out that competition in the airline industry really helps it. Air Canada … has used competition as a motivation to bump up their services. I’m all for competition with airlines.”

On allowing big bank mergers:

“If they tell me they need to consolidate, I’ll be listening.”

On the F-35 procurement:

“The problem with the F-35 deal is they’re not giving us the stealth technology. They did a better deal with the Israelis.” “We’re the best partner the U.S. has: what are we, chopped liver on this deal?”

On Canadian housing intervention:

“The policies we’re putting in place are regional in nature, and don’t take into account that we have very low interest rates, people want to own homes. Why mess with them? Why not let the market be the market, including the volatility in pricing?”


“We have to strip away all the tinkering on policy on housing. The market will be the market, and it’s able to sustain some volatility.”

On cannabis legalization:

“Legalization of marijuana, absolutely: I want to regulate it, particularly these ingestibles. I want to make sure the quality is safe for Canadians if they’re going to consume it. I want to regulate it and tax it like any other commodity that goes through the government system.”