Thursday, January 14, 2016

Why Kevin O'Leary is not Canada's Donald Trump

Michael Den Tandt is a local boy who made good. He's one of the few professional journalists still drawing a paycheque from that floundering colossus, SunPostMedia, the media empire that just keeps giving back to the hedgies who bought its corporate debt for pennies on the dollar a few years back. Most of what you read in Postmedia properties these days is courtesy of unpaid interns, but Den Tandt is the real deal, and his opinion pieces play coast to coast and are generally worth a look.

Folks who follow this stuff will know that Kevin O'Leary was thinking out loud the other day about throwing his hat into the ring to replace Big Steve in the big chair at Canada's Conservative Party. Today Den Tandt offers an enthusiastic endorsement of O'Leary's delusions of grandeur.

I think Michael's got it right that O'Leary is not Trump, even though they superficially have that same "blow-hard" persona. Where I think he's got it wrong is in how they're different. True, O'Leary has yet to disgrace himself with xenophobic clap-trap geared to the prejudices of the baying masses. Instead, he is a man of principles.

And that's the problem. His principles are the tried, tested, and manifestly failed pillars of the Thatcher era; welfare state too generous, unions too powerful, government too big, and taxes too high. We can only bring back prosperity by slashing and burning and cutting taxes.

It's a recipe that hasn't worked since the Thatcher era, and there's no reason to think it will work with just a little more slashing, burning, etc.

So while Trump fill stadiums with his rancid appeals to emotion, it's hard to imagine O'Leary doing the same with his appeals for more austerity.

Not only that, but what really makes Trump important is that he threatens the very foundations of America's sclerotic two-party system. He's the only candidate telling the public that the system is broken. O'Leary leading the Conservative Party would be a more engaging personality bringing you four or five more years of Big Steve.

And who needs that?

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