Conservative leadership candidate Kevin O’Leary participated in a Q&A session on the popular social media site Reddit on Tuesday.
Accompanied by his french tutor, the candidate and television personality answered questions in both official languages during the February 7th AMA (Ask Me Anything).
— Kevin O'Leary (@kevinolearytv) February 7, 2017
Below are some of the Kevin’s responses to the more than 1800 questions and comments posted to his AMA – including the questioner’s Reddit username in brackets.
I work closely with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment Canada, specifically in the science sector. I’m curious about what your take is on science.I liked Harper economically/fiscally, but I was very opposed to his policy on science, muzzling scientists, doing away with data collection like the long form census and reduction in species assessments (essentially handing it over to industry to self manage).I’m not a fan of Trudeau’s economic/fiscal position, but I appreciate his support for, and restoration of, the science sector. Will you continue to support the science sector?
More information and transparency is better for government. Having a strong science sector is always good for government.
What is your stance on climate change? As a country with an economy so dependant on oil and gas, should Canada be actively transitioning to more sustainable energy sources (wind, solar, tidal). How can this be done effectively?
Most don’t know but I have a degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo. I understand your concerns with the environment, but I also know business works. If we put in a place a carbon tax to reduce pollution the worst polluters will just relocate to jurisdictions with looser controls…at the end of the day, this will have the same impact on our global environment!
Instead of enforcing taxes, we need to allow and encourage businesses to find environmentally friendly like this innovative solution for reforestation that I got to try firsthand! Canada is already home to a number of amazing technologies dedicated to minimizing emissions and improving our environment. Our government should work to advance these technologies and convince some of the world’s biggest polluters to use them.
Simple. Please explain your views on Labour Unions. It’s a huge portion of the votes. And we all wanna know straight from the horse’s mouth.
Let’s work with unions to make them more efficient. They’re part of the business ecosphere and will continue to be a part of it.
You have made comments that you would “make unions illegal”. Do you now reject that statement?
This was said to be provocative on a television show and as you can appreciate, shock value brings in ratings and viewers. I believe unions can be beneficial to their members and have their members best interests at heart.
And how are we meant to distinguish between those things you say “as a provocation” and those things you actually mean? Doesn’t this speak to the electorate’s ability to trust you?
The day I declared my bid for Leader of the Conservative Party is the day Kevin “the Dragon” went silent. When I am travelling the country and meeting Canadians I want them to know I am listening to them and want them to believe in me the same way I believe in Canada.
What are your views on marijuana legalization?
I’m in favour of legalization. I want to regulate and tax marijuana similar to the way we approach cigarettes and alcohol.
==TIES TO CANADA AND AMERICA==
Kevin, it’s widely known that you call Boston home. Is this no longer the case?
My primary home and address is in Toronto. I pay property taxes in Toronto, Canada. My office headquarters are in Toronto. I am a Canadian citizen and will continue to be a Canadian citizen.
Thanks for coming to /r/canada for this AMA. One of the big questions put forward to you is your physical presence in Canada during the leadership race and moving forward. Obviously one of the big parallels that can be made is to Michael Ignatieff who was wrecked by CPC attacks as he was “just visiting.” How are you and he different in that regard?
I have always been committed to Canada. I left when I was seven but came back to do my secondary and post-secondary education here. My permanent residence is in Toronto, I married my Canadian wife and we had our children in Canada. My passport is Canadian. Most members of parliament held day jobs before they were elected to office.
==OPINION ABOUT THE CBC==
Mr. O’Leary, if you are elected to become Prime Minister, what are your plans for the CBC? What are your feelings on the TPP, and Free Trade Agreements in general? If Trump does indeed try to renegotiate NAFTA, what would your end goals be in those discussions to secure our national interest?
Lastly, there are a lot of people here who are concerned that you may become the Canadian incarnation of Donald Trump. Do you have anything to say for yourself to dispell those fears, or in other words, how would do you differentiate yourself from him?
1) Like all corporations, the CBC has room for improvement. I think most Canadians agree…but I do believes Canada needs a national broadcaster.
2) Securing our national interest and the health of our economy IS the end goal.
3) Trump and I share a similar career path on television and worked with the same producer. This is where the similarities end. I want to fight for ALL Canadians, no walls involved.
==WHAT WILL KEVIN DO WITH HIS BUSINESSES IF ELECTED?==
What will you do with your business empire if you become CPC leader? Will you transfer it to your children?
So that I don’t have a conflict of interest I’ll move to cash and indexes for all my investments–two things I have no control over which will not bias me in any way.
As for my private businesses, I’ll put them into my competent partner’s hands who is a card carrying Liberal. Imagine, I found the only smart one in the country and he works for me!
Q: [SilentHillSunderlandNewfoundland and Labrador]
I am a 19 year old University student from Newfoundland and Labrador. Recently, our provincial government has raised tax to 15%, imposed an extra 15 to 20 cents a litre on gas, and have even put a 10% tax on all books (academic and literature).
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As a young entrepreneur studying at Memorial University who is struggling to keep up with increasing taxes and lack of jobs here in NL, how can you help students like me stay and work at home instead of moving away when I graduate?
Liberals always try to solve problems by raising taxes. It never works and they grind the economy to a halt, hurting people like you.
I want to turn Atlantic Canada back into the economic powerhouse it’s capable of being but I need to beat Justin Trudeau to do it, so join the party and help make it happen!
==THE ECONOMY & TRADE==
What is your opinion on electoral reform?
My opinion is that we need to focus on the economy and not be distracted by the false promises of the Liberal Government.
Kevin, what is your position on supply management? Would you continue with the system we have or phase it out? Also, when will your wines be available in Quebec?
Supply management is part of the trade agreements that are now open to negotiation. TPP, and potentially NAFTA in the near future. You can’t solve one without the other.
We need to make sure Canadian farmers have a strong reputation while giving them access to all trade. This is the kind of problem I have global experience solving, I’ll be getting my hands dirty in this file and Canada will be coming out ahead.
Do you plan to diversify the Canadian economy away from exports (if so, how?). The modern economy grows through innovation.
How do you plan to build Canada’s tech sector and address the brain drain to the US?
Make our tax policies competitive with the US.
Focus on enhancing Canada’s productivity score. Right now we’re the least productive country of the G7 because our government is not efficient at reinvesting capital.
Leave more capital in the private sector where investments tend to be more productive.
With the increase in protectionist policies in the US, what are your thoughts on trade liberalization and free trade agreements?
I will ensure Canada is ALWAYS in the best situation for global trading. I am completely for free trade and will fight tooth and nail for it.
Mr O’Leary, what would your big foreign policy goals be?
What are your thoughts on the UN?
We must diversify our trading risk. The US is changing it’s tonality re: it’s free trading agreement with us. Canada must reach all markets and that’s exactly what I will do.
Trudeau only wishes he had my rolodex of business investors. The UN is an important international body. We’ve always respected it and I intend on continuing to do so.
==THE HOUSING MARKET==
There’s been a lot of hand-wringing in Canada over the real-estate market, particularly in crowded markets like the GTA and GVA. Home values are racing upwards and wages have not, putting the concept of home-ownership out of reach for many young Canadians.
Do you think the Government has a responsibility to help millenials achieve home-ownership? If so, what actions does your Government plan to take? If not, what do you say to hard-working millienials who don’t have wealthy parents? Can you offer them any hope?
The housing market is like any other asset class. It generally has volatility in its pricing based on supply and demand. The risk for all of us now as we invest in housing is that this market has not corrected in 23 years which is an unprecedented frame of time in the Canadian economy…
It’s simply not a good time to buy a house, and the market dictates that–not the government. It always ends badly when the government tries to manipulate the market. If people lose money on their property in next few years there’s only one man to blame…Trudeau, because he tried to manipulate the market!
What I can promise is that my focus will be to help grow the economy and Canada’s job opportunities so that Canadians have more money to invest in what they choose.
==WHAT ITEMS OF YOUR PLATFORM DO THE OTHER PC CANDIDATES NOT BRING TO THE TABLE?==
Your website doesn’t outline your platform beyond saying we need to defeat Justin Trudeau. What are three key items of your platform that other CPC candidates don’t bring to the table?
World business experience and relationships. An understanding of the economy, global trade, and what it means to manage a pay roll. I know what Canada needs to be competitive.
Why have you not committed to seeking a seat in Parliament if elected Leader?
I am focused on this leadership race and have my sights on Justin Trudeau for 2019.
which direction will you take our gun laws? Thanks.
I was a military cadet a Stanstead college and a marksman at the age of 16. I still target shoot with almost every class of weapon to keep my chops up. I recently met with Tony Rogers, former member of the Canadian Fire Arms Advisory Group, to discuss ways to streamline the 144 page act that legislates weapon ownership in Canada…it is far too complicated. I will fix it. For instance, paperwork errors shouldn’t be a criminal offence.
==THE CANADIAN MILITARY==
Mr. O’Leary, what are your thoughts on the role that the Canadian military should play on the world stage?
I’m a huge supporter of the military and want to make their budget more efficient. Canadians are fierce warriors AND peace keepers, a combination rarely found anywhere else.
The reason we under serve them is that we aren’t growing the economy at 3% and because of that we are not meeting our NATO spending obligations.
Kevin posted a brief video following the Q&A, thanking the audience for their questions and offering to answer more on his website: olearyforcanada.ca.
Thank you for your questions Reddit! If I missed yours, please visit my contact page on olearyforcanada.ca! pic.twitter.com/HH5ny3LwUl
— Kevin O'Leary (@kevinolearytv) February 7, 2017
In a subsequent Reddit thread involving community members who were hoping for even more from Kevin’s AMA, a Reddit moderator said they had “personally tried to reach out to other MP’s/Party Leaders [to do their own AMA] including PM Trudeau and either received no response or just deflection.”
The moderator added that “Kevin said he’ll be back so we’ll see if we can get some more questions answered!”
Top photo: Kevin O’Leary on Facebook