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Available Expert - Kevin O'Leary and the non-political politician

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Queen's University political historian Christo Aivalis is available to comment on Kevin O'Leary's candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC), and the general topic of the recent influx of high-profile, non-political figures entering politics.

"I think there are going to be comparisons to Mr. Trump," Dr. Aivalis says of Mr. O'Leary. "These are pretty valid in a sense. Both men are rich, both are bombastic, and both have a profile based on reality television and as popular evangelists for business. The differences are based primarily around how Mr. O'Leary doesn't seem to share the nationalist mindset of Mr. Trump, and has come out against things like the military. I think he will have a high profile, and should get good raw support. Expect him to poll highly over the next couple weeks in general terms among CPC members."

Dr. Aivalis says O'Leary's entry to the race follows in the wake of a number of high-profile but previously non-political entries to the political arena. He points to examples such as president-elect Donald Trump, whose campaign (amongst other messages) portrayed him as an outsider - capable of distancing himself from the sense of disenchantment with politics - while simultaneously playing on his appeal as a wealthy businessman with access to the halls of power.

"I think part of the reason this plays well for them is because they come into the race with an existing narrative and recognition," he explains. "Unlike a long-time party operative, they are known by wide swaths of the electorate."

Dr. Christo Aivalis is an adjunct professor of Canadian Political and Labour History at Queen's University. He has commented extensively in the past on a range of topics - from public sector labour negotiations to federal party politics.

To arrange an interview, please contact communications officer Chris Armes (613-533-6000 ext. 77513 or chris.armes@queensu.ca) or Anne Craig (613-533-2877 or anne.craig@queensu.ca) at Queen’s University News and Media Services Department in Kingston, Ont., Canada.

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