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
Arlene Dickinson
Dragons’ Den and The Big Decision star Arlene Dickinson poses for a photo Friday October 19, 2012 in her Toronto office. On October 22 Dickinson announces the launch of Arlene Dickinson Enterprises, a media and investment venture designed in helping entrepreneurs. (Tara Walton/Toronto Star/Getty Images)

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.