Now that Kevin O’Leary officially announced that he will run for the Conservative Party of Canada it is more than ever relevant that we have a little talk about what makes him unfit for the job. Because let’s be frank, he is far from being qualified for such an important position, in many ways. As you probably know or noticed, English is not my mother tongue, but it is sadly necessary that I express my thought in that language for the sake of being understood. If this ever comes to M. O’Leary, I hope to show him in the only language he understands that he’s wrong about Quebec, the French language and mostly his vision of Canadian politics and the institution of the Prime Minister.
Firstly, as a young and bilingual citizen from Quebec, I must clarify right away that his belief that most Quebecers are bilingual is false. Even though it is technically true that the bilingualism rate is higher than the rest of Canada, we are still far from a majority speaking both languages. Anyway, even if most people would do so, it would still be disrespectful to the French community to not speak their language. For Mr. O’Leary (or anyone) to believe that the population’s ability to speak English excuses him for not speaking French is pure nonsense, and highlights a deep misunderstanding of the people he expects to govern. Does Mr. O’Leary think the Premier can ignore one of Canada’s official language, a country founded in part on the promise that French-Canadians would be granted equal rights and access to their government? If so, then it clearly shows he’s unfit for office.
And while we talk about French, I would secondly point out that French is a big deal in Canada. Not only is it spoken natively by a big part of the population, it is also used by many immigrants as their second language before English, meaning that a unilingual Premier is not able to reach directly a big part of the population. Moreover, what image does that show of our institutions when the person representing them does not recognize nor understand the massive heritage of the French language in Canada? A bad one. French is not just some cool thing you can tell your friends about; it is in our culture, our institutions, our Constitution. When a man like Mr. O’Leary comes from nowhere and claims he is going to learn it when he realizes people demand it, I do not call that good faith, but rather political strategy, an effort done solely to shut up critics. It is about using French as a tool to seize power when it should be a matter about understanding and respect.
Thirdly, Premiers haven’t been bilingual only for a few years; it’s been decades since one has not been and it would be a huge step backward to let it happen again, for the Premier must be able to communicate with those who trust him with the faith of the country. As the person who is the head of our state in the eyes of the public, the Premier not only is responsible of the executive power and most of the legislative power, he must be the guardian of the values of Canada, one of those being the very bilingual nature of our institutions. It goes from being able to interact with a French journalist to understanding a French speaking MP from Lac-St-Jean for example. How would someone who aspires to work with and for people from the whole country find it practical or see no problem in speaking a single language? Moreover, how would someone feel represented by his or her government when the leader relies on translators to deal with his elected representative? For my own part, I think it is clear enough that anyone unilingual, whether francophone or anglophone, is not qualified to become the Prime Minister.
Lastly, how Mr. O’Leary acts towards Canadian politics is an absolute proof of his inability to run this country. Insulting a political opponent is not a common thing in Canada and is childish coming from a businessman like him. The fact that he did not announce he was running until the French debate was done is so arrogant and disrespectful that I wonder if he even takes this potential job seriously. He shows contempt toward our democracy and Constitution, bashing openly the choices made righteously by the provinces and planning to use the transfer payments to make the provinces follow his views. Most businessmen and businesswomen jumping into politics at least have the decency to get elected and to prove themselves (remember PKP?), whereas Mr. O’Leary believes he alone can solve our problems. I am not so sure about that considering that his most Canadian attribute is his passport.
It seems like O’Leary tries to import Trump politics here, which shows again how disconnected from Canada he is, and with all due respect, he is a joke who does not understand how Canada works. Does Mr. O’Leary even know that Quebec has a dormant yet strong nationalist/sovereignist movement that would sure be triggered by a federal government with hard lines? Does he know that the east provinces’ economies were nearly destroyed by the economic policies of Harper, which gave incentives and a lot of power to Alberta’s oil industry, just as he plans to do? Does he know that a government is not a business and will never be?