Roundup: Divorcing commentary from policy

So, it’s now official that Kevin O’Leary is throwing his hat in the race (though, it should be said, he still hasn’t filed his paperwork and paid his entry fees). And already, he’s making outrageous statements like how all of his previous commentary doesn’t count because it was just commentary and not policy that he’ll be judged on (not sure it works that way). But he keeps saying “That was good television but it’s not policy.”

Or there’s already the bald-faced wrong numbers he’s pushing, whether it’s around the country’s fiscal situation, certain programmes like defence spending, or even growth figures.

And while that’s all well and good, Chris Selley makes some very good points about the places where O’Leary diverges from the party’s base, whether it’s on CBC, peacekeeping or not being concerned about terrorism. That could make him a tough sell with them, particularly on issues that they’ve been vocal about for the past couple of decades.

But despite that, I have to say that it’s not only his name recognition that gives him and advantage in this race, but the fact that he’s going to appeal to a particular demographic in the party that fetishizes businessmen in politics (as though the skillsets were remotely similar, which they’re not), and particularly brash businessmen are swelling everyone’s trousers of late, especially when they boast about things like the “language of jobs” or being able to “read a balance sheet” (which O’Leary has yet to provide concrete evidence that he can, given that he apparently couldn’t read the actual context of that fiscal projection that got him so alarmed that he just had to join the race).

He’s also been playing his cards right, as Adam Daifallah points out here, whether it’s with the “phony war” by staying relevant while “thinking about” his decision, his social media execution, his upstaging the French debate and lowering those expectations for himself. And more than anything, the race, with its 14 candidates, most of them dull and beige, has been a bit of a snooze (Kellie Leitch’s constant nonsense aside), and O’Leary is going to shake that up. The other candidates have been telegraphing that they’re afraid of him for a while (hello Lisa Raitt’s “Stop Kevin O’Leary” website), and that means something. We’ll see just how much it means sooner than later.

Good reads:

  • As Trudeau’s “cowbell tour” rolls along, the gaffes are starting to mount, such as answering an English question about Anglophone services in Sherbrooke in French.
  • Trudeau meanwhile continued to reject calls to appoint either a Quebec lieutenant or regional ministers.
  • Retired General Andrew Leslie is moving from government whip to parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs with a special focus on Canada-US relations.
  • Trump’s proposed border tax could have a huge impact on Canada’s energy sector.
  • The RCMP’s woes with the gong show that is Shared Services Canada is jeopardizing operations and criminal investigations.
  • Here’s a look at Kellie Leitch’s problematic policy ideas around Indigenous rights.
  • Maxime Bernier came out with a foreign policy plank about limited engagement militarily and cutting foreign aid.
  • Andrew MacDougall argues which leadership candidates – including O’Leary – need to be winnowed out for lack of faculty in French.
  • Chantal Hébert, meanwhile, doesn’t think O’Leary’s lack of French will doom his bid.

Odds and ends:

The US is launching a WTO challenge against BC only allowing BC wines in grocery stores and but imported ones.