Kevin O’Leary, you’re dead to me. Phhhht. Clown, begone!
You were the great best hope for the Conservative Party of Canada in its quest to find leadership fit for the day. Not that you would have made a particularly good politician, but you held promise: you had just the right mix of charisma, narcissism, guile and perception of success to turn heads in the culture as it stands today. You were the only one in a field of 17 would-be party leaders with even a chance of competing against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2019, himself the perfect fit for contemporary culture: you discerned correctly that his fascination with himself and rejection of the burden substance requires were no liabilities at all in the eyes of those who voted him in, and concluded that measuring him against old-school social values would be futile as a knockout political strategy.
What none of the other candidates hoping to be the one elected on May 27 (save for Andrew Scheer, perhaps) seem to understand is that conservatism on its own is not a valued commodity in Canadian politics today. All the social peer pressure is tilted toward supporting progressive brands. Any conservative-leaning party leader who would become prime minister must think bigger than brand, and demonstrate recognition of the forces shaping the world’s economic and political landscape. To do less is to lead your party into the wilderness of perpetual opposition, where arguing semantics and abstract political points will have to count as your contribution.
You, O’Leary, had that global awareness, even if you had no track record to prove you could also be a “good Conservative”, and were doing a poor job demonstrating that you were more than half-heartedly interested in being a good Canadian. The people, nevertheless, responded to the appearance of a Canadian champion in a worldwide movement of nations’ citizens who are saying no to servitude to unseen offshore masters. They made you the frontrunner on the very day you announced your candidacy, and kept you there until your stunning withdrawal two days before mail-in voting was to begin.
Up until the moment of your implosion, it all sounded familiar. Promisingly so. You invoked the name of Donald Trump in declaring your candidacy. (Actually, what you said inspired you was the movement that brought Trump to power as U.S. president in November.) We could see the similarities: a sudden groundswell of support that continued to build, righteous indignation at your audacity by the entitled in your own party, vicious personal assaults by pompous media types and the entrenched intelligentsia, and outrage from all the usual suspects.
This was too important a revelation about the Canadian electorate for one person to be allowed to squander. A spark of life had been witnessed, a stirring of the Canadian resolve akin to that which once sent men and women to die on the battlefield in resistance to the threat of totalitarian rule from afar had started to emerge from decades of obedient dormancy. This was too big to be entrusted to the hands of a charlatan who appears to have outlasted the reach of his own bravado, to the care of a little man who perhaps only inadvertently sparked the fire and, judging from the lameness of your “explanations” for bailing when victory was at hand, who might have become afraid of this living thing.
Squander it you did.
See, you were the only one, and the CPC the only brand (due to its independence from lock-step requirements inherent in progressive brands around the world) capable of nurturing the uprising here. While you were giving every indication that you were conducting the march, the other 16 CPC candidates continued to posture and position for what will at best be a caretaker role with a party that has never succeeded in warming the hearts of Canadians, their humble visions beginning and ending inside the bubble created by the party’s constitution. Like you, the majority of eligible voters in this leadership race were seeing beyond that, all the way to the real-world challenges facing the nation as it makes its way in a global context. Like Trump and the European “deplorables” (some of whom appeared before him, and some after), it was this awakening to reality that you tapped into.
Squander it you did.
Not that conservatism fares much better in other nations these days, but recognition of the goodness, honour and nobility present in its stated values has been rinsed out of the Canadian conscious by generations of counter indoctrination by the education system and the sermonizing media. That took place under the watchful eye of successive Liberal and Conservative governments, it is worth noting. Nevertheless, it should be a surprise to no one that Ottawa-centric conservatism is unattractive to the current generation of voters. Even if standing up for traditional Canadians and their values had not become a duty demonized in contemporary culture, and had the conservative brand in public perception not become attached to the resultant caricature instead of to the values themselves, the party would still be regarded as a PC in a marketplace where Mac is king.
The CPC has never managed to outdistance its surly origins: Alberta Reform, twice rebranded and having burped out the longsuffering Progressive Conservative brand in the doing. There is no glitter, no glamour, no savoir faire, no worldly élan and no warm heart with which to greet a generation of voters expecting those very things. The CPC is a world where sterility passes for décor, and none of the surviving candidates for the leadership vote appear equipped to move the party past the dreary place Stephen Harper left for them. As evidenced by the skeletal lists of platform planks most have produced, there is not much of an eye for political substance either; micromanaging the inconsequential evidently did not leave the room with Harper, and they’re demonstrating little awareness of the forces and influences shaping the world at the moment.
Vacuous as he may be, Trudeau at least gets to flutter with eye-catching panache across the world stage, and to bat his baby blues before important faces and cameras also. And the Conservative voter would be wise to weigh the fact that no disillusionment with his performance has yet surfaced, in appreciable numbers at least, among those who elected him. A Conservative-first executive at the helm of the party is not going to get the job done. Pickings now are frightfully slim.
Before you stunned us all by dropping, mid-breath, out of a race that was yours for the taking, O’Leary, tens of thousands of voters across the country had already indicated they were willing to at least consider hitching their hopes for Canadian revival to your wagon. We evaluated the political figures in play in all three major parties and determined you, an outsider with apparent strength and who was beholden to no visible powers, would make the best standard bearer for Canada in the true humanitarian cause before us. There is a considerable threat to western civilization, existential in scope, posed by the handful of power brokers who have managed to dazzle feckless leaders into dismantling national allegiances, to prepare the way for irrevocable centralized global power. You earned your majority of voters, in lightning speed, by telegraphing that you were indeed aware of that existential threat, while the other uninspiring contenders were busy proving their mettle at far lesser tasks a potential prime minister might be duty bound to undertake.
Like Barack Obama, Trudeau is easily flattered by intellectual praise and has been the perfect dupe for compelled insertion of globalist agendas — with dubious origins and end goals — in national realities. Because he has no grasp of the practical reality of mi casa es su casa, Trudeau is decidedly not who you want greeting the ships arriving on your shores, where smiling captains offer shiny trinkets in exchange for ritual blessing of their “generous offers of world travel” to a few of your able-bodied men and their women. For these reasons, and not the trite refrain about “hard-working Canadians” being threatened by lousy Liberal bookkeeping, we can agree that dangerously vain Justin has to go.
This is the file that should be commanding the attention of any would-be prime minister, and you were right in bringing it forward. You sounded perfectly sensible, informed and engaged.
When you said you were inspired by the movement that saw Trump rise to the presidency in the U.S., the people here also heard “Brexit” and “Marine Le Pen” et al behind the actual words. That’s how you came to shoot instantaneously to the top of the list of candidates. Global engagement is not about left-vs.-right politics anymore; those solitudes have been supplanted in this era by the more practical globalist-vs.-nationalist tug-of-war. Card-carrying Conservatives who embraced the idea of you exhibited an intelligence that has escaped the other contenders, and which the locked-in doctrinal Canadian media is not yet able to grasp either. This (and little else beyond wealth and personality similarities) is how your foray into Canadian federal politics paralleled the Trump march.
No one expected you to actually be Donald Trump, though invoking his name served you well for a season and, predictably, unleashed the screeching crones roosting at the CBC, CTV, Maclean’s and the Toronto Star (the Watchers, who will have nothing to do with tolerating such civil disobedience in Canadian society). The takeaway is that a majority of conservative-minded Canadians do see legitimacy — even when baseless accusations of white supremacy, extremism, intolerance, ignorance and alt-something-or-other are leveled against them by the intolerant thought police — in mounting resistance to the threat of global totalitarianism. It’s what aware and patriotic citizens of any nation should be expected to see.
That you would pay a price for rousing sleeping people from their comfortable slumber was always understood. That your ultimate demise might have been orchestrated by powerful interests not tolerant of Canada shifting away from acquiescence in the borderless world agenda is a better guess, perhaps, than looking to in-party opposition or the ferocious-but-toothless media as takedown agents. But the onset of lunacy in how you left the stage has obscured the guilt of any force more sinister than your own unwinding ego.
Now, no one believes the asinine line that asserts you, of your own accord, turned away from certain victory now just because the path to the greater victory down the road might prove hard. Can’t win Quebec in 2019 you said by way of explanation, this only hours after you had fired off yet another bravado-laden e-mail that chirped about doing that very thing. Can’t learn French you said, and while your lips were still moving started exhorting your abandoned base to throw its considerable support to arch-enemy Maxime Bernier — who can’t speak passable English!
C’mon, the “they” who work overtime behind the scenes to uncover The Thing capable of bringing a political opponent down evidently found yours, and you crumbled ingloriously. Part of a supranational cabal or not, “they” were bigger and stronger, and their bite nastier than yours. (In all the post-partum video — none of which should ever have seen the light of day — you look like you’re doing penance, not endorsing a surviving candidate whose political stance you suddenly determine is close to what yours had been. We can do the math.)
I can understand being bested in that way. But there was no grace in your exit. In the hour of your great shame, here you were — like a gadfly — shamelessly flitting about shilling for Bernier, whom you had vilified earlier as a dishonest man and a political charlatan. Undoing everything you and your campaign had been about; unravelling before your stupefied audience. Then proceeding to fundraise for him too? Like an avid volunteer? Really?
Your sandpaper personality and nasty streak diminish your chances of coming out of this as a sympathetic character; your turn-tail-and-run reaction rightfully cued boos for the betrayal of trust, and the unbecoming scramble to shill giddily for Bernier that ensued made you appear very, very small. Perhaps the behind-the-scenes machinations did include maneuvers by power brokers to allay the possible threat posed by you of an unwanted change in direction for the nation, but all that is irrelevant now. So are you. You parlayed any legacy of noble martyrdom that might have come out of such a scenario into one unforgettable mea culpa about your overplayed inability to parlez-vous francais.
You are hereby dead politically — now and for all time.
You were no Donald Trump, granted. You are not worthy, even, to polish his shoes. He has withstood more consolidated might rising up against him than any political figure in recorded history, yet stands against it with all the bluster, bravado and swinging of swords one might expect of a full army; you folded your tent and gave up the race — and gave up all the good folks attracted to the cause along with it. He created many enemies, as is necessary, in the heat of battle and vanquished them all; you created some enemies, but in the end begged to carry water for the most notable one you’d identified (Bernier) as you retreated in disgrace from the field.
Whooh! Look at that, would you? Over you go, in the first puff of wind.
As you toddle off to Boston to get on with the money making that had engaged you before becoming sidetracked by the modest allure of Canadian federal politics, I am left with one comforting truism that never fails in the smarmy milieu of political fundraising: the enemy of my traitor is still a dollar kept in my wallet.
The fundraising drives and clamoring by other candidates for your supporters has been relentless in your absence. But there are no dollars to be had from me for Bernier, nor for the other insular caretakers who never seem up to working anything for my good. Nope. No siree. And only a click of the Unsubscribe link in e-mail or a firm “No!” shouted into my cell phone for those unattractive ravens who have flocked en masse upon your political carcass.
Off with you, now, Mr. Wonderful. We’re done here. You’ve got Shark Tank episodes to shoot, and an ego to restore.
Do let the door hit you on the way out.