Union-busting Kevin O’Leary, former leadership hopeful for Canada’s Conservative party, dropped out of the race last week.
He was a latecomer when he officially jumped in to the race in January, joining an already crowded field of candidates, some of them eager to discredit the reality TV celebrity.
Even before he registered, rival Lisa Raitt, a former cabinet minister under Stephen Harper, lambasted O’Leary in a news conference, warning his Donald Trump-style tactics would divide the Conservative Party and ruin any chance of its return to power.
“If principled and pragmatic Conservatives don’t join together, we will see our party hijacked by the loudest voice in the room,” she warned.
(Somebody might want to warn Raitt that “principled Conservative” is an oxymoron.)
He also faced character attacks from outside the party, including a broadside by his former Dragon’s Den co-host Arlene Dickinson, who accused him of a “total lack of empathy” for Canadians who put their heart and soul on the line.
“Kevin is funny. I often enjoyed a glass of wine with him. He’s also intelligent and a savvy self-promoter,” she wrote in an opinion column for CBC News. “But at his core, he’s an opportunist. He doesn’t do anything that doesn’t offer a path to power, fame or fortune — and that should have us all afraid.”
The O’Leary campaign attracted much media attention, in part for gaffes along the way.
He faced an angry backlash for posting a video of himself shooting a handgun and other automatic weapons on his social media accounts on the same afternoon a public funeral service was underway for three of the six victims of the Quebec City mosque attack.
The posts were quickly pulled and his spokesperson apologized for the mistake, but damage was done. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale called it “obviously crass, insensitive and exceedingly dumb.”
He faced more accusations of not being a serious contender when he took time off the campaign to peddle his own wines on an American home shopping channel.
Man, that sounds familiar.
O’Leary left the race Wednesday with a frank admission that he was bowing out and throwing his support behind former cabinet minister Maxime Bernier. He said it would be foolish, even selfish, to pursue the leadership knowing he does not have the path or probability of winning the next federal election.
Of course, Bernier, the new Conservative favourite, is still a total shitheel.
But at least one of our mini-Trumps is out. Still a few more to go though.