Businessman and television personality Kevin O’Leary, a candidate for leadership of Canada’s Conservative Party, said Canada’s border must be protected to “maintain” sovereignty and urged the government to stop migrants from entering the country over the border without documentation and receiving public benefits.
“I am completely for immigration, legal immigration, I don’t want anybody just walking into our country who feels they should be here and burdening our entire social and healthcare system when we still don’t know who you are. No,” O’Leary said during a speech at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, on Thursday evening.
O’Leary referred to the images of migrants crossing the Manitoba border in the cold with children, arguing that they are coming because of a “loophole” in Canadian law. Reuters recently reported that some migrants, including those seeking asylum in the U.S., are heading to Canada because they fear deportation under President Trump’s enforcement of immigration laws.
“Why is that happening? We have a law in this country, if you go to a port of entry, and you’re a refugee applying for refugee status in the United States and you say to the officer at the border, if you came by rail, by car, walked up, flew in by aircraft, and they ask you if you are applying for refugee status in the U.S. and you say yes, they turn you back. But because there’s a loophole in the law, you can walk anywhere across the 49th parallel, walk into our country 15 feet without any papers at all, without us knowing who you are, where you came from,” O’Leary said.
“In other words, jump the line in front of people who are legitimately going through the process of applying for status in Canada, want to immigrate here or be refugees here, get way ahead of them, be accosted by the RCMP, brought into welfare – we pay your healthcare,” he said. “You can try seven times for an appeal. And if you don’t get refugee status the first time, then if you are not happy, hire a lawyer and contest it for years at a cost of $500,000 per person to you – that is not cool.”
O’Leary said the most “unfair part” of the situation at Canada’s border is there are many people from around the world tangled in the legal process waiting for Canadian citizenship.
“We’re tying up courts with people who don’t want to play by the rules,” he said.
O’Leary, an investor on the hit ABC show “Shark Tank,” said his entry into the race for leadership is tied to the fiscal forecast for Canada. He told the audience mostly of college students that “your children and their children” would be born into debts of $40,000 to $60,000.
“Trudeau’s government put out a document that forecasted the future of Canada that was proposing deficits for 38 years in a row, leaving the country $1.5 trillion in debt. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a 20-year-old son in engineering and a 24-year-old daughter, there’s not a chance in hell I’m letting Trudeau do that to this country – that’s not happening.”
If O’Leary wins, he would run against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the 2019 election. O’Leary accused Trudeau of giving away $4.2 billion to foreigners while traveling around the world, which did not create any Canadian jobs.
“What’s this kid doing? What’s the game plan here? Now he’s been working for almost two years into his mandate and almost half of it’s gone,” he said.
O’Leary said the Canadian economy is not growing under Trudeau’s leadership.
“He lied to you. You know damn well he did. He screwed you,” he told the college students who filled the venue.
O’Leary said Trudeau does not “deserve” the support of young people any longer.
“If he can’t get you a job, you should be incredibly pissed,” he said. “He only knows how to tax you, that’s it.”
O’Leary was interrupted by a protester yelling at the back of the venue before being removed.
“If you are going to protest don’t put a mask over your face, I can’t hear what you’re saying,” O’Leary quipped. “Freedom of speech. I like it. It’s important.”
O’Leary said he thought Trudeau would have changed his administration’s direction after the election of Trump, who proposed lowering individual and corporate taxes as well as opposing a carbon tax. Instead, O’Leary said Trudeau “kept swimming” in the opposite direction of Trump like a “lost salmon.”
“Why? Perhaps he doesn’t know what he is doing. Maybe? Perhaps he’s never read a balance sheet, never read an income statement, has never had to make payroll, has never felt the passion for what it takes to take a challenge like that, maybe he’s never worked hard in his life, these are harsh words but it doesn’t distract from the fact it’s the truth,” he said.
O’Leary said if you do not know what is like to grow a business from “scratch” and provide for people then “you’re out of touch with Canadians and I think he is because he doesn’t seem to give a damn about your plight anymore.”
O’Leary vowed to shine a light on transparency and accountability as a candidate for prime minister and “reverse” Trudeau’s policies if he wins.
“In 2019, we’re not going to have an election, we’re going to have an exorcism – that’s what’s going to happen,” he said. “Whatever the Mexicans and the Americans do, we’ve going to match it on corporate taxes, on personal taxes, on the regulatory environment of developing resources.”
O’Leary told the crowd his daughter, who works at the Huffington Post, said she would campaign against him if he was not a “pro-choice” candidate.
“This party will never mandate morality or compass in any way. How you live – that is your own business,” he said. “I don’t care who you marry and what makes you happy – that’s your business.”