Kevin O'Leary's a genius—or not: Ottawa Power Rankings

Who's up? Maxime Bernier and Mr. Wonderful. Who's down? All those Liberals trying to fix Ottawa's payroll system debacle.


Kevin O’Leary declared moral victory and walked away to oversee his growing American media empire, leaving Maxime Bernier to feast on the leftovers. Ralph Goodale became the latest cabinet minister to get burned by Phoenix. See who’s up and who’s down in and around Parliament Hill’s corridors of power. And check out the rest of our weekly power rankings.



Kevin O’Leary dropping out of the Conservative leadership race was, as political gifts go, like one of those freakishly perfect packages you see in Martha Stewart’s magazine around Christmas. Bernier now sits alone in the frontrunner spot where he’s been jostling with O’Leary—though he’s long claimed a lead in fundraising—and O’Leary has thrown his support behind the former cabinet minister from Quebec, making the libertarian curiosity suddenly look very tough to beat.

Kevin O’Leary


There are two alternate—though not necessarily mutually exclusive—possibilities when it comes to the bombshell of O’Leary’s abrupt departure from the leadership race. One is that O’Leary entered the race more or less as a purely cynical personal brand-building exercise, and once he made himself relevant again and got bored with the whole thing, he dusted off his hands and walked away. In which case, this was a very good week indeed for Mr. Wonderful, and he is only crazy like a fox. Also, on a golf course somewhere, Donald Trump is gnashing his teeth and wondering why he didn’t think of this.

Justin Trudeau


Lately, President Trump has hollered, at various volumes and with wildly varying degrees of attachment to reality, about Canada shamelessly taking advantage of the U.S. on trade issues including dairy, energy, softwood lumber and—worst of all—NAFTA. But following a conversation with Justin Trudeau on Wednesday—both men related the same story of the chat and its outcome—Trump backed down on insisting he would cancel NAFTA within days. It’s probably not possible to be a whisperer of a creature as mercurial as Trump, but Trudeau is having some success pushing back instead of playing nice.


Ralph Goodale


The minister of public safety has landed the unenviable job of heading up the new task force that’s supposed to finally—finally—sort out the automated Phoenix payroll system that has stiffed tens of thousands of government workers out of their paycheques even while others are overpaid. There’s now a backlog of 284,000 transactions, and in addition to Goodale, Trudeau has tossed a half-dozen other cabinet members at the mess. With $140 million allocated to trying to drag Phoenix out of its smoking pile of ashes, the software will save taxpayers exactly none of the dollars it was implemented to save.

Mark Norman


The RCMP alleges in new unsealed court documents that the former top naval officer leaked cabinet secrets to a Quebec shipyard in a bid to force the government to move forward on a procurement contract. Vice-Admiral Norman was removed from his post as vice-chief of the defence staff in January and is now being investigated for breach of trust and two breaches of the Security of Information Act. The judge who ordered the documents released noted that Norman was not attempting to enrich himself, but rather to goose the government into going ahead with a stalled contract to retrofit a Navy supply ship.

Kevin O’Leary


…But the other possibility, of course, is that O’Leary really did want to win, figured the job was his for the taking, failed to recognize the full extent and effect of the entitled dilettantism he was broadcasting and only gradually and painfully came to the realization that he couldn’t win, at which point he bowed out to protect his ego. In which case, this was really an awful week for O’Leary and his supporters need to ask themselves some tough questions.