Kevin O’Leary has announced he is running for the Conservative leadership, suggesting that as a businessman, he is better qualified than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to work with president−elect Donald Trump.
O’Leary said he intended to run in a video posted to his Facebook page Wednesday morning, moments before making the official announcement on CTV.
In a statement, O’Leary said Canadians need a prime minister who will kickstart the economy and support business — particularly in light of political changes in the United States.
"Now, with the election of Donald Trump to our south, Canada’s largest trading partner is headed by a businessman with an aggressive strategy that could hurt the Canadian economy. Trudeau doesn’t stand a chance, and we deserve better," he said.
"Canadians are looking for a prime minister who is not a career politician; a prime minister who will fight for them, and is not afraid to tell them how it is. They also want a prime minister who will be inclusive and not lower themselves to use divisive politics," he said. "Since the start of this leadership race I have looked for a candidate with these qualities, but it has become clear that I am the only one that can defeat Trudeau."
O’Leary — an author and financial guru who became known to many Canadians as a judge on the CBC−TV show "Dragons’ Den" — will be competing against 13 other candidates, including MPs Kellie Leitch, Maxime Bernier and Steven Blaney.
Those already in the race faced off in a French−language debate Tuesday night in Quebec City.
O’Leary, who does not speak French but is now taking lessons, was not at the debate, since he had not officially registered at the time. He has said the crowded field has reduced the debates, in his words, to "just a bunch of sound bites."
Tuesday’s debate often saw Bernier the target of his rivals, with Leitch and Blaney in particular taking aim at the former cabinet minister on different topics. The other participants were Lisa Raitt, Deepak Obhrai, Brad Trost, Chris Alexander, Michael Chong, Erin O’Toole, Andrew Scheer, Pierre Lemieux, Rick Peterson and Andrew Saxton.
On Twitter Wednesday morning, O'Leary said he would be honoured if Canadians would demonstrate their support through his website:
Politics: O'Leary has proclaimed himself a political agnostic in the past but has aligned himself with the Conservatives.
Family: O'Leary and his wife Linda have been married since 1990. They have two children.
Quote: "I hope to make this a nightmare for politicians who think they can continue wastefully spending our money."
— with files from Elizabeth McSheffrey