Flamed by Premier Kathleen Wynne for making erroneous claims about Ontario’s auto sector, the Federal Conservative leadership candidate and former Dragons’ Den star fired back.
Flamed by Premier Kathleen Wynne for making erroneous claims about Ontario’s auto sector, a former Dragons’ Den star is firing back.
Federal Conservative leadership candidate Kevin O’Leary, target of an unusual weekend attack from Wynne, lashed out at the premier Monday.
“I’m getting involved in the Conservative leadership race because I can’t stand watching incompetent politicians destroy my country. You and (Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau are two of them. (Alberta Premier) Rachel Notley would be the third,” O’Leary wrote on Facebook.
“You and your policies have all but bankrupted a province that was once an economic powerhouse in Canada. If you were the CEO of one of my companies I would have fired you long ago,” said the businessman and star of ABC’s Shark Tank.
“Your complete disregard for the people of Ontario has caused hydro prices to become completely unaffordable for families, sometimes forcing them to choose between groceries and heat,” he continued.
O’Leary’s response came the day after Wynne posted an open letter on Facebook to set the record straight on his incorrect assertion that Ontario attracts lower auto investment than neighbouring Michigan.
“I noticed that you told one media outlet that our province trails Michigan when it comes to auto sector investment, because, in your words, business there enjoys ‘30 per cent less in tax, no regulations and no carbon tax,’” the premier wrote.
“In fact, that’s inaccurate on just about every count. As it turns out, Ontario has attracted roughly $2 billion worth of new auto sector investment in the last few months alone, far outpacing Michigan,” she noted.
“Indeed, over the past five years, Ontario has accounted for 14.6 per cent of all the auto production in North America, surpassing the share enjoyed by any other jurisdiction on either side of the border including — you guessed it — Michigan.”
Wynne also pointed out that “businesses in Ontario pay a combined federal and provincial rate of 28.5 per cent… significantly below the 38.9 per cent they pay in Michigan.”
While O’Leary, one of 14 candidates vying for the Conservative leadership on May 27, did not refute Wynne’s statement, he warned the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump will lead to massive changes.
“Do you really think Ontario is going to be competitive with Michigan and other northern states after Trump eliminates regulations and lowers taxes? You’re dreaming,” he wrote.
“Admit it! You did not see him coming and now you are totally caught off guard. Your answer to everything is to raise taxes, take money from businesses that employ Ontarians and then try and reinvest it yourself.”
O’Leary said Wynne is “clearly out of touch” and dared her to face voters before the next election on June 7, 2018.
“If you really think you are doing a good job, then prove it, and call an election tomorrow! Unfortunately, we both know you won’t do that, though, when you are sitting with a 16-per-cent approval rating in the polls. But, I promise, it would be a very popular decision if you did.”
Despite such bravado, the governing Liberals indicated they have no intention of letting up on the celebrity politician.
Both Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid and Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault sent O’Leary open letters Monday afternoon calling him out for his accusations.
Duguid reminded him Ontario remains the country’s economic engine while Thibeault emphasized the province is working to lower hydro rates.
The Star by Robert Benzie
Jan 23rd 2017