As It Happens

Volunteer calls Kevin O'Leary's abrupt exit 'a betrayal'

A volunteer worker for Kevin O'Leary's Conservative leadership campaign says the TV personality revealed his true personality when he dropped out of the race with no warning.
Kevin O'Leary dropped out of the Conservative leadership race on Wednesday. (Aaron Davidson/Getty Images)

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Kevin O'Leary's revealed his true colours when he suddenly dropped out of the Conservative leadership race on Wednesday, says one of his campaign volunteers. 

The businessman and TV personality stunned some political observers when he announced his abrupt departure from the race and threw his support behind rival Maxime Bernier. 

The move also came as a shock to his campaign workers — some of whom didn't know about it until after the fact. 

One of those volunteers spoke with As It Happens host Carol Off about what he sees as a "betrayal" by O'Leary. The 24-year-old man has asked to remain anonymous because works for the federal government. Read part of their conversation below. 

As It Happens has reached out to O'Leary for comment, but has not yet received a response.

How did you find out that Kevin O'Leary was pulling out of the race?

I got a text message from my friend at work telling me, "Can you believe that O'Leary dropped out?" And I was completely shocked, and I looked up online and I see that that was the case.

How much time had you already dedicated to Kevin O'Leary's campaign?

I dedicated a number of hours to helping out on the campaign, the Manning conference, as well as phone calls and outreach on social media. So it was a chunk of time.

Do you think he owed it to you to let people like you know that he was going to do this in advance?

I think that he owed it to us to stick to the campaign to the very end. To find out the way we did felt like more of a betrayal. More than anything else, it shows that he didn't care at all. And he kind of lived up to every negative stereotype that was said about him, which is what makes it worse.

What is the stereotype he lives up to by doing this?

That he's just in it for himself, just callous and arrogant, self-promotion — all those types of things. And, in the end, it seemed like that's exactly what it was.

Did you think Kevin O'Leary, when you got involved, that he was somebody else?

For me, yes, he's an abrasive character, but he also played a character on television. But he also had very moderate social policies.

One of the big appeals as well, he's able to attract a lot of members into the party. I have friends of mine ... who messaged me telling me know they were interested in getting involved in the campaign, friends who were never political. I think it is healthy to have people engaged in the political discourse.

So you thought he was the best candidate for the Conservatives and maybe even the best possible prime minister?

I think he would have been a good choice for leadership at the time and I think he would have made a good prime minister as well.

But do you think he's shown who he really is now?

I think that's exactly what's occurred. And the lowest part is I had friends saying, "Oh you're making a mistake, he's not in it for the country, this is just an opportunistic move," and it looks like they were proven right.

Does this discourage you at all about playing a role in politics?

To be honest, I've been in politics since I was 16. I used to be a Liberal at the time too. And I've been on numerous campaigns, a lot of losing campaigns, and this is the only one I could honestly say that I regretted supporting someone.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. For more, listen to our full interview with the O'Leary campaign volunteer. 


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