Why I wouldn't vote for Kevin O'Leary—and neither should you - Macleans.ca

Why I wouldn’t vote for Kevin O’Leary—and neither should you

Kevin O’Leary might have launched a career in politics, writes Arlene Dickinson, but he’s still the same old shark we see on TV


Last week I wrote that Conservatives should reject Kevin O’Leary as a leadership candidate, and the positive response from Canadians has been overwhelming.

I expected Kevin to respond (which is fair). But how he responded is particularly important, as it reinforces that Kevin-the-candidate is no different than Kevin-the-TV-personality. In fact, his response only underlines the concerns I raised about his motivations, character, and suitability for office.

My first objection to Kevin’s candidacy is that the man I know is relentlessly self-interested and only pursues opportunities that further his fame, power or wealth.

RELATED: Q&A: Why Kevin O’Leary is running for Tory leader

This concern has since been confirmed when he was asked if he would leave the American show Shark Tank if he won the leadership. He said he wouldn’t, electing to commit half his energy to an American reality show.

In other words, instead of committing 100 per cent of his time to serving Canadians, he’s going to spend half of it investing in Americans, and serving his American interests.

I also said that Kevin shifts positions when it’s convenient. That too has been reinforced. When he’s in the United States filming Shark Tank, he calls Boston home. Now that he’s in Canada running for office, he calls Toronto home. When he’s in Montreal, suddenly he’s Québécois. It’s no wonder he doesn’t know the difference between Capitol Hill and Parliament Hill.

In Kevin-the-candidate’s most recent, and perhaps most outlandish shift, he declared to Tasha Kheiriddin in a radio interview that he’s not a capitalist. You read that right folks: Kevin O’Leary, the millionaire venture capitalist, said he’s “not a capitalist.”

MORE: The Conservative Party’s Kevin O’Leary factor

I did find one of Kevin’s responses to my article surprising when he and his surrogates pronounced, falsely, that the only reason I criticized him is because I’m partisan. They even went as far as saying I’m running for office.

But he knows this isn’t true. I’ve publicly declared several times that I’m not running for any political party.

In other words, instead of being honest with Canadians, Kevin and his team chose to spread a lie in an attempt to delegitimize my view.

Perhaps more revealing is that Kevin went on to say my concerns aren’t legitimate because I’m an “emotional woman.” Specifically, I was so emotional, I “was never able to separate [my emotions] from [my] investment decisions,” which is why I “did so poorly.”

Denigrating women has become something of a trend for Kevin-the-candidate. When I defended our men and women in uniform, and called him out for saying there was nothing “honourable about being a warrior,” he called me “confused.” When his fellow Conservative candidate, Lisa Raitt, opposed his “greed is good” viewpoint, she too was “confused.” When I question Kevin’s suitability for office, it’s because I’m “emotional.”

That’s right, Kev, we’re just a bunch of confused, emotional women.

RELATED: O’Leary’s campaign got rolling over lunch

Kevin’s claim that I made poor investments on the show because I was emotional is just another example that Kevin-the-candidate will bend the truth when it’s convenient. The reality is, I would put my top investment aired on Dragons’ Den against his any day, and I challenge him to do it.

So, what has Kevin-the-candidate said so far to convince Canadians that he’s different from the self-interested, opportunistic Kevin you see on television? Nothing at all.

Kevin on The Lang and O’Leary Exchange is the same as Kevin on Dragons’ Den; Kevin on Dragons’ Den is the same as Kevin on Shark Tank. And Kevin on Shark Tank is the same as Kevin the news commentator.

While Kevin-the-candidate might be a new character, he’s still the same old shark we see on TV.


Why I wouldn’t vote for Kevin O’Leary—and neither should you

  1. Good on you Arlene for speaking truth to power. You have total credibility. I for one am tired of the wrong people being put into power because people kept quiet about their flaws, for fear of retribution.

    • It’s fine to open the party tent in order to attract new members, but sometimes that tent can get a little to large, like three ring circus large, you get the point. I like the new parties diversity, 12 angry men, and 2 bewildered women..lol Kevin O’lerry is a ‘Pussy’, he is using the con party and the country to keep his brand and ego alive in Canada, and that was on life support before he entered this race, now he wants to be ringmaster to the most toxic party in the country, come on with it. O’lerry has a thin skin just like Trump, his biggest weakness besides his mouth, is his anger, and the media needs to do is expose that. He is nasty, and only nastier when he is on the defense. Our media in Canada needs to expose this Charlatan for what it really is.

    • The right person to put into power would be, without a doubt, Rona Ambrose. It’s very unfortunate that she seems to have another plan.

      • yer freakin kiddin me…right…

    • And coming up on the next episode of the Khardasians Arlene has a major falling out with Kevin…like totally.

      How ’bout we get past the requirement that, to be “taken seriously”, a candidate for office has to be a celebrity? The ability to gain public notice [or notoriety ] has zip all to do with leadership…something that’s sadly lacking from the current menu, all stripes included.

    • Kevin is not real …take a close look, President Velveeta is not real as well.
      We are in the Matrix and since history shows even well meaning “nice” humans have attempted to govern the people within their imaginary border lines in the trees….it all comes back to society’s based on economy’s instead of love don’t work and never will. So Keven is just another dumb human that truly believes he knows best, and why ? He’s got some money…..so what.
      Forget about it Arlene.

    • I agree-Rona Ambrose would be my first pick-articulate, smart and principled.

      • bugger off you think she’s cute

    • So nothing has been learned from the Harper experience? Ambrose? O’Leary?? etc.??? The Cons day has passed-we can do better-can’t we?

      • A lot was learned from “the Harper experience”. The most significant being that he was a smart leader who didn’t have Gerald Butts telling him how to ruin Canada.

      • Apparently voting in Prince Ding-a-Ling is a better idea

  2. Young Justine was put on the pedestal by Soros & Team,
    but they did not know, that he was really not meant to be a PM of Canada
    Kevin should learn from that, go home and look at his bank notes…

    • You should do the same.

      Take your bald eagle with you.

    • you have no credibility here.

      • That’s what Hillary said.

        • Canadians have just watched Trump win with lies and bullying, Do you really think we are stupid enough to vote in a Trump here as well?

          • Yes…look at how we’ve done so far.

          • We are more stupid than that, look who we’ve voted to be our leader.

    • Well, if they put him on the pedestal, what did they think was going to happen? I think they perhaps misjudged his abilities. Notice how he was not being featured at Davos this year. Now the challenge is to just keep him occupied and out of Ottawa.

  3. I always liked Arlene largely because she was nicer and more compassionate than others on Dragon’s Den-particularly Kevin O’Leary. But both this article and her earlier one has led me to believe that she has a severe hate on for this man-something far beyond a difference of opinion about what constitutes appropriate conduct in her framework.
    O’Leary does come across as a tough and he also can clearly see wasteful activity and spending and can be very blunt about it. We’re going to need that after four years of Trudeau mismanagement to get Canada back on the rails.
    And if she doesn’t think Trudeau “only pursues opportunities that further his fame, power or wealth”, I have some outstanding swamp land to sell her.

    • O’Leary is now saying that he is ‘not a capitalist”

      What is left for Kevin, just “opportunist”, I guess.

      When do the conservatives start saying “He didn’t come here for you”, and “Just visiting”?

      • well, “opportunist” is not the only option…he could go for “narcissist” among other labels, but a road apple by any other name would smell as sweet. It’s also true, that whatever he calls himself, he won’t be doing it ninth country’s other official language.

    • Jerome, I couldn’t agree more with you. Arlene is clearly a Liberal and likely sees that Kevin would likely defeat him in the next election.

      • Please take your partisan blinders off.

    • For sure — something in this piece smacks of Arlene having a personal grievance against O’Leary. If this in any way reflects a pro-Liberal attitude, then I think O’Leary is just the guy for the Conservatives to elect. He will tear a strip out of the Liberals and it would be useful wake-up call for Canadians who often have little idea of how damaging Liberals have been (and are) to Canada. Because the media in large part favours the Liberals, it is easy to overlook their shortcoming. Right now, they have a totally incompetent leader to the point where it is not at all clear where leadership is coming from. O’Leary will be vocal in his criticism and hard to ignore. He will bring common sense about dollars and sense and a message that Canadians need to hear.

      • I cannot picture Trudeau taking on Trump in anything other than a selfie competition. If Rona Ambrose doesn’t change her mind and run (she could charm Trump to death), our next best choice will be a tough bird like O’Leary.

      • Multiple business bankruptcies do not speak to business acumen or “common sense about dollars and sense” (or do you mean cents?).

        Being vocally critical is one thing; actually offering solutions and policies that work are another. Kudos if he raises valid concerns and voices and debates them in a manner that moves to positive action. But so far he appears to favour the overly dramatic sound bite before moving on to the next histrionic and hysterical idea and personal grievance.

    • I wouldn’t say she has a hate-on exactly, but I guess she doesn’t think his undeniably selfish qualities are desirable for a future PM. I’m ready to hear him out. I suggest that his self-interest includes his kids and future O’Leary progeny. So unless the whole family leaves Canada, this country’s future prosperity concerns him. I wouldn’t mind having a leader that can make those unpopular decisions that are necessary to improve our bottom line, so to speak. Some of these lobbying groups will push their agendas until we go completely under, and they don’t seem to see it.

      • We don’t need lobbying groups to go under. Just look how Gerald Butts guided Wynne to disaster in Ontario and now he’s the puppeteer for Trudeau.

    • Supporters and sympathizes of O’Leary need to check further into his business background, with its shady schemes and multiple business failures before turning over the keys to this elitist business expert.

  4. Never a truer word was written. Thumbs down on O’leary. I’m leery of him.

  5. Never a truer word was written. Thumbs down on O’leary. I’m leery of him.

  6. Well there *is* nothing honourable about being a warrior. However O’Leary is a total POS.

    • there is certainly nothing honourable about you mr clark

  7. Hmm, for someone who is thought of as the nice one ,from a TV show I might add, she sure is keen to show the other “dark” side all of a sudden. What some people won’t do for some cheap publicity to drive traffic to themselves. Running for office takes some steel guts to put yourself out there. Perhaps Miss Dickinson needs to aquire some steel and run as well if she thinks she can do better. I agree with the other post. In four years after the under qualified drama teacher sinks us in shark infested waters, we will need a shark to navigate us out!!

    • unqualified drama teacher, who grew up in politics and who was an MP for 7 years and you think Kevin is better to lead, what has he done ?

    • Your remarks suggest that if one expresses an opinion that obliges them to run for office. When will we see your name on the ballot then?

  8. So, the mistake the media made in the USA was giving Trump free exposure.

    But seeing the media make that mistake here is so painful to watch. It’s not because O’Leary is intriguingly ridiculous like Trump, no, he’s just a ideological corporatist idiot like the rest of them. Rather, the media is arguably motivated by a kind of Canadian inferiority complex:

    “Look at us, we have a crazy guy too!”
    “We’re just like our big brother!”
    “Maybe the US will pay attention to us!”
    “Hey, look at us, we have a game show billionaire too!”


    • I’m increasingly annoyed at the amount of free publicity O’Leary is getting from the media. I’d like to know when they’re going to start giving the same platform to all the other candidates. If not, perhaps O’Leary should be obliged to declare the value of these “interviews” as a campaign contribution :-)

  9. …Said the Liberal #icks##ker.

    • Do you have anything constructive to add to the discussion?

  10. Arlene, I know you aren’t running for Prime Minister, but perhaps you should. Canadians need someone who is fiscally minded but also compassionate. From what I’ve seen of you in the media, I think you’d do a fine job.

  11. Arlene, I understood why you wrote your last article on Kevin. But what was your point with this one? What was to be served? This diatribe failed to inform the reader with anything over and above your last piece.
    I am not a fan of Donald…I mean Kevin, but I don’t need a weekly hatchet-job shoved my way to go over once again, why he might be lacking essential qualities necessary of a leader in government. Save that for the folks south of the border…they are used to it.

    • She mentioned that there had been some ‘trumplike’ reaction to her first article. In this one she points-up some notable flaws and failures demonstrated in O’Leary’s ‘riposte’.

  12. Canada doesn’t need a ‘brand name’ running the country. Now mind you if his was the name on a brand of Canadian underwear – like a former Prime Minister (who actually had some good sense to go with that), or some famed Canadian farm equipment – like a former Governor General (who also commanded some respect with the moniker) ‘the Draggin’ might have something to offer. As it is he’s just another shill whose ‘expertise’ (for sale) is not getting ‘fleeced’ as much or as regularly, as the rest of the investment suckers. For every ‘winner’ on the stock exchange, there are an equal and oppsite number of ‘losers’.

    In Kevvie’s case, with him in the Chief’s desk, we all lose.

  13. It would be quite interesting and, perhaps, further revealing to hear a comment from Amanda Lang.

  14. Thats great Arlene, but please don’t tell people how to vote.

  15. I am going to do that “thing” that confuses a lot of people – myself included – but is too hard to ignore. I am going to “Gibbs” this decision, and go with my gut: there is ‘something’ about voting in Kevin O’Leary that makes me very hesitant to do so. In fact, I actually went to his campaign page, read all of the stuff, and even went to the “become a card carrying (voting) Conservative” field so that I could make my choice count. As I hovered over the link, I could not do it! There is something that is sitting uneasy in my spirit about voting for this man. This article sorta helps me understand what that “something” is. I am not sure that the “right” person has thrown their hat into the ring yet, but I do know that whoever it will be MUST want what is BEST FOR CANADA – not themselves. It is not even about changing anything for idealistic beliefs! It is about protecting what IS! Our TOP public SERVANT “M U S T” be exactly that – a servant of this wonderful country. Anybody who is trying to lead it in a direction is a pawn of lobbyists. Why can we not look at this wonderful nation, see what made us that way, and “hire” a MAN / WOMAN (not just a person, but an ADULT) who will defend what we have worked so hard to achieve. I am amazed at how far we came as a nation in the first 120 years, and how far we have gone from that path in the last 30. People used to think that Canadians were the best people in the world. Now they are seeing us very similar to Americans. Kevin O’Leary, I believe, is very much “American” in his personality and actions. I AM CANADIAN!

  16. Good one Arlene. From all I’ve ever read from Kevin, I think he’s a pompous ass. What else could you conclude from this opportunist Trump-wannabe?

  17. LOL kinda liked Arlene when she was on the show but that has dampened somewhat. O’Leary is a lightning rod for those who like, maybe love the status quo. Maybe we need a full time shark to rid our land of the far left drama teacher and his cabal. Don’t know for sure but it should be an interesting near and not so near future.

  18. For anyone who’s been struggling to understand just what the term “elites” actually describes, this tells you everything. The elitist mindset is first and foremost the idea that you know better than others, not just how you should live your life, but how they should live theirs and what their priorities should be — even when they’ve explicitly told you otherwise North America is suppose to be a democracy and we should decide to vote for someone because we have listened and understand what they stand for. Anyone who feels the need to comment on someone else is suggesting we do not have the ability to make a decision based on the facts. It tells me they are not confident in their own abilities. Lisa Raitt starting a website about Kevin tells me she is not confident to run the party. I would vote for her if she was bringing the best alternative to the table not because she is an elitist like Arlene Dickinson. Who the hell is she to thing we are not capable of making a decision based on fact.

    • Linda,

      Thank you for your non-elitist explanation of the elitist mindset. Does not sound at all like “you know better than others” about how to live life and are in no way pushing YOUR priorities!

      Must admit I am confused about your confidence in your abilities since you “feel the need to comment on someone else”.

  19. Dear Arlene Dickinson

    You should consider joining the leadership for the Conservative Party. I realise that there are disadvantages in joining the contest this late, but you would prove to be ‘a quick study.’ You, not Kevin, have the right mix of experience, judgement, intelligence, personality, and charm to lead the party into the next election.

    Don’t dismiss this idea. There is still time. I am not the only person who would gladly vote for you.


  20. The trouble with this is that it boils down to a he said / she said. I gather Arlene has left Dragons Den and in the background there seems to be some sort of altercation with the remaining team. So what was that about? People who dislike O’Leary’s persona will be pleased to see this article, but I think it smacks of personal vindictiveness, and the tone is snarky. Arlene had already spoken out against O’Leary, so why write this? Well, I suspect that MacLeans invited her to do so (and perhaps she is now in need of a job!) So it looks like Macleans does not like O’Leary either.

    • What is it about “Arlene” that makes hers a voice worth listening to with regard to selecting a national leader other the fact that she’s been on a TV show like O’Leary?

  21. Interesting. Can anyone ever write with out bias? You see one only has credibility when the present both the pros and cons. To state only the cons is telling you have a platform to which you will use for your own agenda! the content then becomes nul and void . Please do not tell people who they should vote for ! that is the problem with this country .Nobody does any research to see what they are actually getting .Proof in Trudeau

    • Please enlighten us with your research you have done into the background of the Conservative leadership contenders.

  22. I would not vote for him just for the way he addresses people as ” cockroach”. as Trump would say —not good

  23. I wish everybody who has been on television or is associated with CBC would keep their opinions of O’Leary to themselves. It is pretty obvious that the opposition of celebrities gave Trump a launching pad for his campaign. O’Leary will be able to use the same opposition to solidify his core support.
    Before you say or write anything against O’Leary, type your name into Google. Unless your name is Rex Murphy, if the results yield the words celebrity, television or CBC then say nothing. Conservatives will be relatively certain that you are not only opposed to O’Leary but opposed to them as well. Your comments will simply align a group of Conservatives with O’Leary and provide him with a punching bag to beat up whenever policy discussions get serious.

    • A good suggestion.

  24. I wouldn’t vote for O’Leary because he’s a Conservative…among a long list of flaws that make him unappealing.

    • So you’re the one that got the surf boarder elected as PM.

  25. Unfortunately, just as O’Leary confuses compassion with weakness, too many people confuse notoriety with ability. While O’Leary is likely the front-runner in a very crowded field simply because is recognizable, I hope Conservatives here don’t make the same mistake as those in the U.S., selecting an unqualified, self-serving egotist. I don’t think North America could survive two “Mr. Wonderful”s.

  26. If McLeans gave equal time, my article would be “Why I don’t read what Alene Dickinson has to say, and neither should you”

    • Please take the time to research and refute her. Looking forward to your next informed post here!

  27. I am in total agreement with this article. O’Leary could be Canada’s Trump.

    And that’s why I’m asking the media to refrain from making the same mistake American journalists made by giving him coverage, even if that coverage points out his lies and weaknesses, if you are not also covering the other candidates in relatively equal measure.

    It might be instructive for our journalists to talk to their American colleagues. Those who are honest will, in my opinion, admit that the publicity they gave to Trump led, in part, to his coming to power. The media is not solely to blame, of course, but it played a role.

    Canada must be better than that, and the media plays an important role in protecting our democracy. Let’s do it right!

  28. O’Leary is a mini me to Trump. They are both media sluts that live to see there image on TV or their quotes in the paper. They both are guided by the need to make money and to be seen as successful. They appear to think that makes them ( successful, smart, wise, talented, desirable, attractive, a natural leader). Pick any or all of these options, but I personally think it is all a cover up for some deep seated in adequacy. Vote for whoever you like, but if you are expecting good things from these two buffoons, I have a bridge you might be interested in.

    • “When I get there in 2019 every single policy that [Trudeau] put in place regarding what makes us competitive or not will be repealed by me. All of it.”
      “We can’t afford any of the commitments in health care, education or military,” O’Leary said.”

      These are two comments that O’Trumpabe made on The House. Does that sound like a man capable of being PM? He doesn’t even know that a Canadian PM does not have the power to issue directives like the US president. It is extremely difficult to believe that any Canadians could support him.

  29. Being of sound mind, why would I?

  30. Thanks for confirming my beliefs about Kevin O’Dreary. I would never vote for him based on the fact that he has no clue what he is doing.
    I would however vote for you Arlene as you seem to have a level head on your shoulders and a lot of compassion tempered by sound evaluations from what I know of you. I have been doing my best to flap posts where he is being touted as “Canada’s Best Hope!” for what I have no idea but I will continue to attempt to show him up for what he is at every opportunity! Thank you!

  31. I happen to be a Donald Trump supporter who is not afraid to speak up.
    Even though I do not agree with everything president Trump says I do believe in his capacity to lead, I agree with many of his convictions and general views and I believe strongly in his abilities. That said,,,, This comparatively little man is no Donald Trump LOL I don’t know what else to add to that.

    • I am curious. On what do you base your faith in Trump’s capacity to lead? His multiple business bankruptcies? His divisive remarks? The fact that his restrictions on travel to the US do NOT include Saudi Arabia, where many of the 911 terrorists came from and where he has business interests? Just asking!!

  32. It’ll be interesting to see how far he gets with that posturing about how angry he is, how Canada is on the skids — Mini Me stuff. Last week I heard how the Conservatives were trying to figure out how to oppose the government without coming across as opposing Canada. Honestly, that is the very first thing I’ve ever heard from that party that I liked, and it was a relief. I hope those days are gone that they go to the US and “apologize” for our government, like Harper did. O’Leary would be a huge mistake. But I don’t know if Canadians will fall for it, even if the Conservatives do. Man, that’s the epitome of the male chauvinist, that he thinks he’s in any way prepared to run the country.

  33. Sorry Arlene, but with that rant you sound like a typical, know-it-all, celebrity who is simply trying to get as manu likes as you can! The one thing that shoud be taken out of politics, is the constant B.S. of “he/she is bad, he/she lies, he/she won’t do this or that, he/she will do this or that” by people like you, the media, other politicians, etc. It turns our country/politics into a laughing stock just like it is in the U.S. right now and then people that are sick of hearing that kind of crap being spewed on every subject, rather than hearing something important about an issue, wind up voting out of spit rather than with knowledge. Jobs, healthcare, education and the continued advancement of this great country are what is important! The candidate that best represents that is who should be the P.M. What we have leading a couple provinces and the country now, certainly aren’t!

    • Rocky,

      I agree that “Jobs, healthcare and continued advancement” are what matters. Too bad you fell into the trap of unsupported ranting with your last sentence.

  34. “That too has been reinforced. When he’s in the United States filming Shark Tank, he calls Boston home. Now that he’s in Canada running for office, he calls Toronto home. When he’s in Montreal, suddenly he’s Québécois. It’s no wonder he doesn’t know the difference between Capitol Hill and Parliament Hill.”

    Hey, remember when Harper’s Conservatives ran a whole election campaign accusing Michael Ignatieff of the same thing? Hmm… Almost like they’re flip-flopping hypocrites or something!

  35. “While Kevin-the-candidate might be a new character, he’s still the same old shark we see on TV.”

    I feel the very last sentence in Ms. Dickinson’s piece may actually be Mr. O’Leary’s strongest trait. People *want* to see the kind of cut-throat tactics they’ve seen on his various TV appearances. If he’s just like what we see on TV as Ms. Dickinson has said, then I think she may have helped him with this article.

    Personally, I haven’t really decided what my feelings on Mr. O’Leary are yet. I don’t generally vote Conservative so haven’t given him a lot of thought.

  36. Who would you rather negotiating the deal for the Keystone Pipeline with Trump, Kevin O’Leary or Prince Ding-a -Ling.

  37. Very nice article by Arlene, but I will be voting for Kevin O’leary anyways, truth is we need someone like him to get Justin Trudeau out! … Justin Trudeau is a joke alongside with Kathleen Wynne destroying this country and putting money in their own pockets! Because of Wynne my family can barely to pay our hydro bills, our families are suffering, Ontario is suffering!!! … we work hard and we are barely making it! we can barely afford food! and Wynne raising gas prices (over-tax) and fucking the economy does not help! … Ontario has become a slave province in which we work only to survive (food/shelter), this is not life. We need someone like Kevin O’leary that knows what he’s doing and is tough on corrupt politicians! The harsh Kevin O’Leary that we see on Dragons Den and Shark tank is the Kevin that we want! … Thats the reason we SHOULD vote for O’leary!

    P.S. If Arlene Dickson would run in politics I would vote for her, she is experienced with the Market and she is a compassionate person that would help Canada and Ontario… but unfortunately only Kevin is going into Politics… Step up Arlene and do the same thing!

  38. I do not believe Arlene has a personal vendetta against O’Leary, she simply knows him better than we do. Her opinion based on that counts with me. We are all entitled to our opinions and what we believe.

  39. I like him and have always voted Conservative. Our economy is failing a weak dollar, schools locking out students, a strong leader won’t let things slip through the fingers of all levels of government. He’s a leader in several fields including the economic forecasting on TV and as an investor on TV. He’s more than what we see just saying so.

  40. Kevins got my vote! O’Leary! O’Leary! O’Leary! Get rid of the liberals