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Alberta Diary

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David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. His 1995 book, A Poke in the Public Eye, explores the relationships among Canadian journalists, public relations people and politicians. He left journalism after the strike at the Calgary Herald in 1999 and 2000 to work for the trade union movement. Alberta Diary focuses on Alberta politics and social issues.

'Kevinismus' in Canada: Should Kevin O'Leary run to lead the sad-sack federal Conservatives?

| January 14, 2016
Kevin O'Leary

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Give Kevin O'Leary his due. At least the guy is faintly entertaining.

Perhaps O'Leary should run for public office himself, or at least the leadership of the sad-sack federal Conservatives.

Being a loud-mouthed, deep pocketed, obnoxious former entertainer whose mind is not exactly in the first rank, but whose devoted fans could care less, is obviously no barrier to political success in North America nowadays.

This may be true even if, unlike loud-mouthed would-be American Republican president Donald Trump or loud-mouthed would-be Alberta conservative premier Thomas Lukaszuk, you don't exactly excel in the tonsorial department.

Just knowing how to get noticed gives the slaphead neocon meat puppet -- I've been waiting for a legitimate chance to say that about someone for years -- a significant edge over the sorry field of contenders striving to replace the unlamented Stephen Harper as leader of the foundering Conservatives, the party that only had one big idea and that was pipelines.

At least when O'Leary offers to pony up a million dollars in stock purchases for the Alberta oil industry (some endorsement of them!) if Alberta Premier Rachel Notley will only step aside, or when he claims Notley is not qualified for her job (not having a suggestively named TV show of her own, I guess) folks actually notice and journalists write everything down.

This annoys plenty of people -- when O'Leary first flapped his gums at Notley, it seemed as if half the registered Twitter users in Alberta had the identical visceral reaction: 'What an asshat!" Only, of course, they didn't say … "hat." But at least they noticed, and they mostly they didn't also laugh out loud.

In that regard, compare O'Leary's pronouncements to the kind of things real rumoured candidates for the Tory leadership are saying. I could have sworn I heard Lisa Raitt, the Tory finance critic (or as we say here in Alberta, where pretentiousness may be all we have left, the Shadow Minister of Finance), on the CBC today complaining that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shouldn't be spending money on economic stimulus when he could be doing like his predecessor and trying to build pipelines!

No sign of the story on the CBC's website tonight, but maybe they were embarrassed, or inundated with queries from listeners wondering what those pipelines were supposed to carry now that oil prices are scraping the bottom of the bbl -- French perfume? Cod liver oil?

Like Trump and Lukasazuk, O'Leary strikes me as the kind of fellow who thinks he's won every argument he’s been in -- even if he, ummmm, hasn't exactly.

I think both he and Notley came out of their recent sound bite battle confident they'd won. "The last time a group of wealthy businessmen tried to tell Alberta voters how to vote, I ended up becoming premier,” Notley observed, accurately enough.

Call me partisan, but I give the contest to Notley on points -- even if I would have preferred if she hadn’t used the phrase "bring it on," which, if anyone had asked me, always carries a whiff of hubris.

Alert readers will recall President George W. Bush saying something similar back in 2003, in response to a reporter's question about Iraqi insurgents shooting at American troops in their country. "My answer is bring 'em on! We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation," President Bush famously said, after which they did. Even Bush now admits that was probably a mistake, which is a big step for a conservative.

If I wrote Notley's one liners, I would have recommended something that conveyed the same message, but without tempting fate. You know, like: "Go ahead … make my day."

I suppose we should be careful what we wish for, but it does seem to me O'Leary would not only a better choice for the federal Tories than anything they've got on offer at the moment, but be someone who has the potential to make Kevinism respectable again.

For those of you who live a protected North American lifestyle, the idea of Kevinism is a genuine meme in Germany right now -- or, as the Germans would put it, Kevinismus.

Discover magazine explains: "Another day, another crazy German noun: Kevinismus, which basically means, 'You're named Kevin? Sucks to be you.' According to a study of interactions on the German dating site eDarling, online daters don't even bother to click on the profiles of users with names … like Kevin. The authors suggest that this online neglect due to their unpopular names mirrors lifelong social neglect, which is also responsible for making Kevins smoke more, get less education, and have lower self-esteem."

Or, as an actual German site explained: "Kevinismus leads sufferers, and especially their offspring, to social isolation."

That would explain a lot, don't you think? That's all I'm going to have to say on the topic of Kevin O'Leary.

NOTE: A few hours after this post was published, media began to report that Mr. O'Leary is in fact considering a run for the leadership of the federal Conservative Party. Life imitates art. This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

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