Kevin O'Leary vows to be a 'nightmare for politicians' on economic policy

Once again teasing a possible run at the leadership of the federal Conservative party, television star Kevin O'Leary appeared at the Manning Centre conference in Ottawa on Friday and vowed to be Finance Minister Bill Morneau's "worst nightmare."

Possible Conservative leadership contender warns Liberals he plans to 'tear that budget to pieces'

Conservative Businessman and Commentator Kevin O'Leary says he will heavily criticize Bill Morneau's First Federal Budget 1:14

Once again teasing a possible run at the leadership of the federal Conservative party, television star Kevin O'Leary appeared at the Manning Centre conference in Ottawa on Friday and vowed to be Finance Minister Bill Morneau's "worst nightmare."

"Our financial policy in this country... is broken," he said to applause, after claiming the Canadian engineering students he speaks to regularly are planning to leave the country on account of high taxes and a low dollar.

O'Leary, former star of CBC's Dragons' Den and current star of ABC's Shark Tank, was on stage as part of a session dedicated to potential leadership contenders at this year's edition of former Reform party leader Preston Manning's annual gathering for Canadian conservatives.

The flamboyant entrepreneur ripped the Ontario government's budget and its plans for a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He said the Canadian energy sector had collapsed because of bad financial policy and said he had "wept" upon hearing a presentation to investors in New York by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. In a discussion with Manning after his speech, O'Leary also described Notley as "an incompetent."

Pipeline referendum promised

On other matters of current debate, O'Leary said he'd hold a national referendum on pipelines and would have the government pursue a better, "market" deal with Bombardier, the aerospace firm that he later deemed "the worst-managed aerospace company in the world."

Businessman and TV commentator speaks to reporters at the Manning Centre Conference in Ottawa. 1:40

O'Leary, who drew several rounds of applause, said he would dedicate himself to holding the federal and provincial governments to account.

"What I'm going to be doing with this platform and why I'm here today is I've decided that in every government policy or government spending from now on, I'm going to spend a tremendous amount of energy exposing it to the public and showing them where it's broken," he explained.

"I hope to make this a nightmare for politicians that think they can continue wastefully spending our money."

Though still non-committal about his political aspirations, O'Leary vowed he would pursue Justin Trudeau's government as it tables its budget next month.

He said he had recently met Finance Minister Bill Morneau, at a corporate social event, and warned him directly. "I said, 'Listen Bill, I don't like deficit spending. I'm going to be your worst nightmare. I'm going to tear that budget to pieces.' "

Businessman and TV Commentator speaks to reporters at the Manning Centre Conference in Ottawa 0:21

About the Author

Aaron Wherry

Parliament Hill Bureau

Aaron Wherry has covered Parliament Hill since 2007 and has written for Maclean's, the National Post and the Globe and Mail.

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