When Kevin O’Leary announced that he would be running for the Conservative Leadership for the 2019 federal election, many drew direct parallels to President Donald Trump.
“If there was a wall around Canada, my family wouldn’t be allowed in. What Trump has been able to do is fascinating, but we are very, very different.” O’Leary said to a packed London Convention Centre in London.
The former reality TV star, successful businessman and Western University graduate is known for his “to-the-point” attitude, investing style. His persona on TV is often looked at and criticized as almost sociopathic or emotionless.
“Look, it’s a TV show and certain parts are edited to look a certain way, and when you are put in that situation you are expected to entertain, and that’s what I did.” he said about his how he is perceived on TV.
His biggest challenge lies with the 18-29 demographic who have almost entirely left the Conservative Party. Almost 80% of people between the ages of 18-35 who have never voted in their lives came out in support of Trudeau last election according to O’Leary. He says getting those young people, and the many others who, he says, will be disappointed with Trudeau come election time will be the key to his success.
“My daughter is 24 and she voted for Trudeau, and when I told her I was running for the Conservatives she said if you don’t give me a platform I can get behind, I won’t just not vote for you, I will campaign against you.” O’Leary shared.
O’Leary says that it will be campaigning in unconventional ways for a Conservative Party leader that will get young people back to where he needs them to be to win an election.
“When I said I wan’t to go to campuses across Canada, my management said no, you’ll get eaten alive on campuses.” he said as he proceeded to list all the campuses he is going to be going to in the near future.
He plans on talking face to face with young people across the country, preaching what he believes is a platform that anyone disappointed in Trudeau will vote for. His main focus is getting jobs in Canada for young people right out of university. He is also focussed on being the socially progressive on issues that young people care about like gay rights, abortion, and marijuana.
“Running a traditional conservative campaign just won’t win here in Canada.” O’Leary said in response to a question about what he is going to do for social conservatives.
O’Leary will need to continue to try to shake the Trump comparisons as much as he can as the US President is vastly unpopular in recent Canadian polls.