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Does Canada have a Lebanese version of Donald Trump?

posted on: Jan 20, 2017

Kevin O’Leary. Image Credit: National Observer

BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer

Does Canada have a Lebanese version of Donald Trump? Kevin O’Leary, a businessman and star of the reality television series “Shark Tank”, announced Wednesday that he is joining the race to lead Canada’s Conservative Party in the 2019 Prime Minister election.

In a statement announcing his run, O’Leary emphasized business and economic changes, saying “Canadians need a Prime Minister with a smart plan to kick start the economy; a Prime Minister who supports small businesses, who will fight for hard working Canadians and will stop wasting our money.”

O’Leary is a star of the hit ABC show “Shark Tank,” where entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to tycoons who either invest in the product or tell them to walk away.

O’Leary was born in Canada to a Lebanese mother and an Irish father. His mother was an expert investor who taught her son money-saving and investing tips that led him to success in the business world. After receiving a $10,000 loan from his mother, O’Leary started SoftKey Software Products in his Toronto basement. Today, he is a software industry tycoon worth $300 million.

Both Trump and O’Leary are businessmen turned reality television stars, who believe “voters don’t want politicians as leaders” anymore. Neither have political experience, but both are straightforward, fiscal conservatives who believe business strategies are needed to solve government problems. And both are or have competed in a large pool of candidates. O’Leary is up against 13 other competitors in the race, while Trump beat out 16 others.

O’Leary also has hopes of working with President Trump.

“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,” O’Leary said in a statement.

While O’Leary and Trump share a few of the same ideas, the Canadian conservative believes that’s where the comparison ends. The SoftKey co-founder said he doesn’t believe in walls and is the proud son of immigrants.

“If there was a wall around Canada I wouldn’t exist,” O’Leary told FOX News.

The reality star also supports marijuana legalization and access to abortions, which Trump once said should be a punishable offense.

But for O’Leary, the economy is his main concnern. He also spoke in his announcement about current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whom he believes is ruining Canada’s economy.

“I am a successful Canadian businessman with a great deal of international experience. I have seen first-hand Trudeau’s gross economic mismanagement, and the effect it is having on our country.”

The tycoon has promised to unravel everything Prime Minister Trudeau has done during his time in office. O’Leary’s chances of winning and overturning Trudeau’s work are hindered, however, by a few caveats.

O’Leary doesn’t speak French, which could turn off millions of French Canadian voters. O’Leary also spends a significant amount of time outside of Canada at his home in Boston, Massachusetts, which could cause his opponents to cast him as an outsider – and not in the appealing way.

At the beginning of Trump’s campaign in the summer of 2015, his chances were also low, but as Trump has proven, there is a group of people who are attracted to the outsider businessman perspective. O’Leary’s chances might be low now, but he could “pull a Trump” in the end and win Canada’s top seat in 2019.