“I’m going to wait. You know why? Because I can. It’s that simple,” he said Monday in an interview with Global News.
Is O’Leary giving himself an unfair advantage? No. It’s “strategy,” he said.
“I don’t have a name recognition problem and I don’t have a finance problem,” he said. “Strategically, it’s better for me to wait.”
But O’Leary has proved you don’t need to be in the race to have a gaffe noticed. On Monday, he posted a video to his Facebook page while standing on a sidewalk in snowy Ottawa, telling his viewers he was looking forward to going up to “Capitol Hill,” apparently confusing the home of the United States’ Congress with our own Parliament Hill.
The Toronto businessman and reality-television personality previously said he was wavering between running and throwing his weight behind a candidate. His self-imposed deadline has bounced around between November, January and the more vague “winter.”
WATCH: Does Kevin O’Leary consider himself the ‘Donald Trump of Canada?’
Today, he’s in Ottawa to meet with members of the Conservative caucus at the request, he said, of several MPs.
“I don’t want to enter a race with 14 people. How about three? How about four? And you tell me what that’s going to be. Is it going to be the first week of January? The second week of January?”
O’Leary (or any leadership hopefuls) have until Feb. 24 to enter the race.
“If I enter this race, I want you to know that I have every intention of being very disruptive in the electoral race. But I don’t want to be disruptive at all to the caucus. They are my business partners,” he said.
One problem O’Leary perceives with entering the race while so many candidates remain is none has time to express or debate ideas fully.
“There’ll be natural, Darwinian culling by financial pressure that’ll occur,” he said. “I don’t want to spend any of my energy beating up fellow Conservative candidates. This is not what this is about.”
For now, O’Leary has only three people in his crosshairs: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his principal secretary Gerry Butts and Finance Minister Bill Morneau – the three men O’Leary says are leading Canada to “disaster.”
A big part of that changing world, O’Leary argues is the American president-elect, Donald Trump.
“In the shake of an election south of the border, our largest trading partner changed the rules on us. Justin doesn’t understand that’s happening.”
For his part, the businessman has drawn comparisons to Trump, as much for his brash personality as for his appearances on reality TV shows. But that’s where any similarities end, O’Leary said.
“We enjoy the benefits of celebrity, and to a certain extent that seems to matter in politics these days,” he said. “But I’m half Lebanese, half Irish. If there was a wall in Canada, I wouldn’t be here. I don’t believe in many of the metrics he’s put in place defining his leadership. They don’t apply to Canada.”
Although O’Leary had previously spoken ill of Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch’s campaign, on Monday he had nothing to say about any particular candidate.
“They’re all Conservatives. They all have good ideas,” he said.
— With a file from The Canadian Press