Shark Tank star and fledgling Canadian politician Kevin O’Leary doesn’t think the Trump administration’s plan to place a tariff on softwood lumber is a wonderful idea and warns it could start a trade war that would have devastating consequences in the U.S.
O’Leary indicated he believes that it could start an unnecessary and costly trade war between the two nations who have long worked in close unison.
His comments fly in the face of a claim by Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross who called the soft wood penalty a one-time tariff designed to show Canada that Trump means it when he says he will hold other nation’s accountable for unfair trade practices. Ross cited as another example the situation dairy farmer’s face with milk sales from Canada.
“By the time it’s over softwood lumber, automotive parts, milk would all need to be renegotiated,” O’Leary said on CNBC’s Halftime Report.
O’Leary said all that the tariff will do is make the price of lumber needed to build new homes rise even faster, which will harm middle-class American home buyers. He added that a tariff on milk would send shockwaves across both sides of the border and cost thousands of jobs.
“You will wipe out millions of farmers and the supply chain and all the people they work with,” warned O’Leary.
O’Leary, known on reality TV as “Mr. Wonderful,” until today had been a serious candidate for the leadership post of the Conservative Party of Canada, or what is known up North as the Tory party.
Despite receiving a number of endorsements and generating comparison to Donald Trump as a reality TV star and businessman taking on politics, O’Leary suddenly quit the race, saying that he could not win in the populous province of Quebec, and that would mean he could not win a national race if he led his party in the next election.
O’Leary has brushed aside comparisons to Trump, aside from the obvious ones. “The only similarity is we both worked with Mark Burnett, but that’s where the comparisons end,” O’Leary told Fox News in January shortly after he had announced his candidacy to lead the Tory’s in an effort to unseat Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2019.
“I am nowhere near the same as Donald Trump on policy,” O’Leary told the New York Post in January. “I am half Lebanese, half Irish – there’s no walls – if there was a wall around Canada, I wouldn’t exist.”
O’Leary endorsed another Tory candidate, Maxime Bernier, and indicated he will campaign for him and remains committed to having a voice in Candian politics.
“It’s for the sake of the party that I do this, and the country. Because I can’t deliver Quebec. I can’t win. That’s my opinion. I wish it was different,” O’Leary told The Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto.
O’Leary is expected to continue in his role as “Mr. Wonderful” on the highly rated ABC reality show, Shark Tank, where he vies with other panelists for deals and then uses his own money to make investments based on pitches from budding entrepreneurs.
Mr. Wonderful has made it clear that one pitch he isn’t buying is the one Trump is selling to America. While he thinks a business background is helpful to a government leader, he clearly doesn’t plan to follow Trump’s lead.