Fredericton — Whether you consider him a dragon, a shark or even “Mr. Wonderful,” his next title just might be “Leader of the Official Opposition.” Kevin O’Leary, world-famous entrepreneur and bombastic commentator, has put his name forward in the race for the leadership of New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservative party.
This announcement comes just days after O’Leary announced his interest in the federal Conservative party leadership and offered $1 million if Alberta Premier Rachel Notley would resign. Although several prominent New Brunswick-based Tories are said to be considering a run, O’Leary is the only declared candidate in the race to date. He is in touch with local party organizers to ensure that he meets the provincial party constitution’s criteria for his leadership bid.
“I figure that if I want people to consider me for the top job in the Conservative party, I should get some lightweight credentials first,” said O’Leary. “Usually I can buy what I need, but Rona Ambrose told me that they won’t approve me if I don’t take this seriously. So, this is good for my brand.”
Like Donald Trump in the U.S., O’Leary plans to finance the race himself. “Leadership races in a place like New Brunswick aren’t that expensive, relatively speaking. I’ll just park one of my yachts for the season and turn down the temperature of my heated driveway or something,” he said.
When asked what he would do if he was subsequently elected premier, O’Leary reviewed his plan for change.
- First and foremost, he would give himself a raise. “If you want a shark, you have to pay for that. If you can’t pay, you’re dead to me. Plus, the Canadian dollar is poo-poo right now so I need more.”
- Transform Opportunities NB into a Dragons’ Den-type experience, where he personally reviews every “deal.” “You have to show me how your idea is going to make me money. If your idea stinks like that Atcon disaster, I’ll tell you to take it out behind the shed and shoot it.”
- Toll everything — including highways, overpasses and covered bridges. “If you want to drive on my roads, you have to pay me for that. The gasoline tax doesn’t even cover maintenance of the roads, so our customers need to pay up.”
- Monetize New Brunswick’s hospital system. “There’s 750,000 people in tiny New Brunswick and 22 hospitals. I figure we need one hospital, maybe two at most. We can rent out the beds by the hour. And from now on it’s BYOF — bring your own food. The cold hard truth is nobody likes hospital food anyway.”
- Raise all sales and income taxes until there is no structural deficit. “People think I’m for low taxes, but I need to make a profit. New Brunswick has been in negative cash-flow situation since 2007, and the deficit for the second quarter of 2015-16 is $453 million. I know that won’t be popular, but I’m not trying to make friends; I’m trying to make money.”
When asked how he thinks he’ll fare against Brian Gallant, O’Leary was optimistic. “I think I’m offering something valuable that New Brunswickers haven’t seen before. Besides, if I’m going to be a Conservative leader I need to practise running against handsome Liberal leaders with great hair. Great hair is so overrated.”