Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, right, and federal Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Kevin O’Leary traded barbs over Ontario’s competitiveness in the automotive sector
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne recently congratulated Kevin O’Leary on stepping into the political arena.
That’s about where the niceties ended in her open letter to the federal Conservative party leadership hopeful.
Posted to Facebook, Wynne responded to comments O’Leary made about the automotive industry in Ontario. “For example, 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,’” she wrote.
Wynne slammed that remark as “inaccurate on just about every count.”
In fact, Wynne added, “Ontario has attracted roughly $2 billion worth of new auto sector investment in the last few months alone — far outpacing Michigan. 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.”
The state does not have a carbon tax, Wynne acknowledged. But she pointed to other Conservative members as having as plan that she claims is less effective than what her government has in place.
“As for taxes, businesses in Ontario pay a combined federal and provincial rate of 28.5 per cent,” she added. “That’s significantly below the 38.9 per cent they pay in Michigan.”
Wynne also took a swipe at O’Leary’s television persona, where he is nicknamed Mr. Wonderful, despite his bluntness towards entrepreneurs seeking investments in their company on U.S.-produced Shark Tank. He was previously a member of its Canadian version, Dragon’s Den.
“I know that responding to you with such facts runs the risk of missing the point. On American game shows and reality TV, no one expects their words to be taken literally — or even seriously,” she wrote. “But for the millions of working families in Ontario who rely upon the auto sector to put bread on their table, I thought it was worth pointing out that your statements have been quite incorrect.”
O’Leary fires back
O’Leary first tweeted a short response to Wynne’s letter, saying that United States President Donald Trump’s plan will give Michigan a lift and hurt Ontario.
He then penned his own letter on Facebook, which included an expansion on that comment.
Saying he “can’t stand watching” Wynne, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley “destroy my country,” he asked if the Ontario premier really believed that the province can continue to compete with Michigan after regulations are eliminated and taxes lowered there, as promised by Trump.
“You’re dreaming,” he said. “Admit it, you did not see (Trump) coming and now you are totally caught off guard.”
However, that was as far as he would comment on the auto sector. Much of his letter attacked Wynne on taxes, rising hydro rates, the province’s debt and her dismal approval rating. “I’m sorry, but you are a terrible investor of taxpayers’ money, that’s why Ontario is $308 billion in debt. Harsh words? Sure but it’s the truth,” he wrote.