Arlene Dickinson on Kevin O'Leary's Conservative Leadership Bid: "I Don't Want a Leader That's Only in It for Himself"

Arlene Dickinson on Kevin O'Leary's Conservative Leadership Bid: 'I Don't Want a Leader That's Only in It for Himself'
Canadian businessman and reality television personality Kevin O'Leary announced his decision to enter the Conservative Party's leadership race yesterday (January 18), and while this country has yet to truly discover what O'Leary is like as a political candidate, one of his former Dragon's Den co-stars has said he's no different off the TV set than he is on it.

Businesswoman and former Dragon's Den co-host Arlene Dickinson revealed she has been "inundated with requests to comment" on O'Leary's candidacy in an opinion column written for the CBC, saying that "yes, he's exactly the same person privately as he is on camera."

The two were co-hosts of the aforementioned CBC reality show for seven years, on which they listened to pitches from Canadian entrepreneurs of all kinds. "You get a window into somebody's character by the way they treat people, particularly those who are vulnerable and need help or guidance," Dickinson wrote. "Kevin's total lack of empathy toward these Canadians who put their heart and soul on the line, I can assure you, was genuine."

Dickinson wrote that O'Leary is "funny...intelligent and a savvy self-promoter. But at his core, he's opportunist. He doesn't do anything that doesn't offer a path to power, fame or fortune — and that should have us all afraid."

She continued in saying he represents capitalism in its very worst form — "a soulless system that bases decisions solely on dollars and cents, profit and margin."

"Like all opportunists, Kevin shifts positions when it's convenient," she said, pointing to examples of O'Leary turning down a Dragon's Den not-for-profit proposal from a group of inner city children from Halifax and backtracking on comments he had made about Canada's armed forces.

"Instead of facing the other Conservative candidates in this week's French debate in Quebec City, he tweeted from his armchair. Kevin chose what was best for him, hiding out in Toronto instead of standing with fellow candidates and allowing Canadians to hear his views."

In closing, Dickinson wrote that "self-interest isn't what politics should be about, and it's not what drives good decisions. Politics isn't just about dollars and cents, it's about people. It's about shepherding all Canadians through good times and bad, and ensuring that the most vulnerable stay with the flock.

"I don't want a leader that's only in it for himself. I do not want a leader who will cut and run when it's in his best interest. I don't want a leader who views our country as nothing more than a balance sheet.

"Whatever your political stripe, I've found Canadians to be compassionate and caring people. Canadians deserve a compassionate and caring person to lead their country. Conservatives have several candidates to choose from. Kevin O'Leary shouldn't be one of them."

The Conservative party will choose their leader in Toronto this May.