Kevin O’Leary draws crowd to Grant Hall

O’Leary’s address continued despite attempted protest

Kevin O’Leary speaks to a crowd in Grant Hall on Thursday evening.

“Here’s my plan. I’m going to win this leadership race and then I’m going to shine the light of transparency and accountability on Justin Trudeau for the next two years, and make his life a living hell,” Conservative Party leadership candidate Kevin O’Leary declared to a crowd of approximately 1,000 people in Grant Hall Thursday evening.

His plan was met with enthusiastic applause.

The Queen’s University Conservative Association (QUCA) hosted the event as a part of their ongoing Conservative Party Leadership Series. “We believe that this is the largest political event at Queen’s in modern history,” Abby Chaudhry, ArtSci ’17, said as he introduced the event on behalf of QUCA. 

“Back when Justin Trudeau came here in 2013, he could barely get 300 people to fill Wallace Hall. Today we have 1,000.” According to a Journal article from the 2013 visit, Trudeau spoke to a full crowd in Wallace Hall.

Thursday evening’s event began with a viewing of a short biographical video about O’Leary, who was born in Montreal to Lebanese and Irish immigrants. When O’Leary took to the podium, he told the crowd that his motivation for running was twofold.

O’Leary said he became concerned at the vast amount of Canadian engineering students who expressed to him their plans to start businesses in the United States, because they didn’t want to get paid in Canadian “dollarettes” and “get taxed at 58.3 per cent.”

When the Trudeau government began to reveal financial troubles, O’Leary’s motivation flourished.

“Trudeau’s government put out a document that forecasted the future of Canada. It was proposing deficits for 38 years in a row, leaving the country 1.5 trillion dollars in debt,” O’Leary said. “There’s not a chance in hell that I’m letting Trudeau do that to this country.”

“Where is it written in the Canadian constitution that we should let [Canada] be managed by a toxic cocktail of mediocrity and incompetence, and sometimes stupidity?”

O’Leary’s speech was briefly interrupted by an unidentified patron attempting to protest, though it was unclear what the individual was saying, as he had wrapped a sweater around his mouth. “If you’re going to protest, don’t put a mask over your face, I can’t hear what you’re saying,” O’Leary said as the protestor was escorted out of the building.

Returning to his scheduled talk, for O’Leary, economic growth is the core problem that needs to be addressed before any other advancement can be made in Canada. He criticized Trudeau, who he said “gave away 4.2 billion dollars to foreign countries” in his first few months and “didn’t create one Canadian job.”

O’Leary explained that the decline of the economy will manifest itself as a lack of jobs available to university graduates, and emphasized the importance of the age 18 to 35 demographic in the future of Canadian politics.

“Trudeau was able to motivate a new political force that is going to be incredibly powerful for the next 20 years — it’s you … you now have the power,” O’Leary told the crowd. “Why are all these politicians coming here to see you? Because without you, they can’t win.”

While O’Leary acknowledged that Trudeau was successful in appealing to the 18 to 35 demographic, he vowed to reverse this support. “My plan is to claw back all of that support from Justin, because he lied to you and you don’t deserve it anymore … if he can’t get you a job you should be incredibly pissed.”

O’Leary then criticized Trudeau’s inability to compete with American President Donald Trump’s plans to lower corporate and personal taxes, eliminate the carbon tax, and deregulate and grow the economy. He attributed this to Trudeau’s lack of financial literacy.

If elected, O’Leary said he will “reverse every single policy that damages the economy, and every tax that [Trudeau] has put on this country that has damaged its ability to compete” with the United States.“[Trudeau] doesn’t know how to save any money, he only knows how to tax you,” O’Leary said. O’Leary emphasized his main goals of reaching three per cent GDP growth and increasing jobs for Canadians, but also spoke of his plans to combat illegal immigration and soaring housing prices.

However, O’Leary repeatedly explained that all issues, including climate change and patrolling borders, require money to solve, so the economy must see growth before these concerns can be properly addressed.

When asked what he would do about issues among Indigenous populations, O’Leary said a lot of problems in Indigenous communities also relate to economic growth, and promised he would provide jobs and opportunities for them to “grow their own futures.”

In an interview with The Journal after the event, O’Leary promised to protect the culture of inclusivity in Canada, which he sees as vital to Canadian values.

“We should be endorsing the same kind of inclusiveness we always have, and we should be very tolerant of other people’s religions and cultures … I’m very proud of our country.”

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