The Honourable Joe Volpe, Publisher
TORONTO - He has played everyone like a fiddle. Kevin O’Leary is finally in the race for the Leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. Surprise, surprise.
What happens from here on in is anybody’s guess. What is certain is that the dialogue from now on will shift from the “inside the beltway” conversations about what is right or wrong in our political apparatus, to debates about where should Canada go from here.
Mr. O’Leary’s candidacy signals that “all bets are off” in this race.
The usual rules are off the table. He will redefine what is important in our country, for better or for worse. As with Trump, there will be no sacred cows.
For example, he stayed away from the French-language debate (so did the rest of the country), judging the forum to be counterproductive for him or anyone else who needs more than one minute to outline a plan for the future.
Besides, he argued, he admits to what everyone knows: he is not a linguist. He self defines as one who speaks the language of the marketplace – he knows business, and has the Billions to prove it.
Being able to speak at least one of the country’s official languages is vital; preferable if you can speak two. But, he posits, you’ll never satisfy the language purists, whether French or Italian.
The other day, Francesco Sabatini, honorary chair of the Accademia della Crusca admonished an up and coming Member of Parliament in Italy for his casual attention to the Subjunctive (is there an English reader who understands its use?) in his discourses.
He tut-tuted the deputy Chair of Chamber of Deputies for his grammatical faux pas, demanding greater “culture” from those who pretend to govern. Good luck. Even Italy is still a democracy, and people will choose whom they want to lead their political apparatus.
O’Leary, who is modelling his campaign on the Trump phenomenon, is betting that even Quebeckers will set aside the views of the Francophone Media/Press Corps and vote for his strengths.
He may well be onto something. Jean Lapierre, former Federal Cabinet minister, used to say that Quebeckers view the “political action” as emanating from Quebec City, not from Ottawa. Their expectations are set by their Provincial politicians, not by their federal political aspirants.
As of yesterday, there are now 13 political aspirants who, with all due respect, now find themselves in the unenviable position of re-enforcing the qualities that O’Leary brings to the table every time they offer an opinion on anything.
So far, he has been a master at defining the issue: change the Prime Minister, here’s how.
That will be the real debate to follow.