Over the past few weeks, rumours have been swirling around the internet over the Quebec-based, Dragon’s Den star, Vincenzo Guzzo, and whether he had any intention to run for Conservative Party leadership.
This seemed to be confirmed when multiple sources, including David Tjordman, a federal Conservative candidate in Montreal in the last election, confirmed with The Post Millennial that “[Guzzo] made it clear he was going to be running … to me, and to a few other people as well.”
The Post Millennial reached out to Guzzo for a wide-ranging interview, where he clarified his position on running for leadership, spoke about Andrew Scheer’s tenure, and the policies he would introduce if he became Prime Minister in the next Canadian election.
(The following interview was edited for clarity and length.)
TPM: Will you be running in the upcoming leadership election?
VG: I really want to see who else throws their hat in the race. The biggest issue that I have is that my personal desire, the party’s desire, and the national desire, needs to be in line. They need to cross somewhere. A lot of the party has been screaming bloody murder because they want one of their established guys to be the next leader. My problem is that I sit there and I say, you do realize that you guys have ten, fifteen years of political baggage that you need to justify like Andrew Scheer had to justify.
So your claim that you’re a better candidate, because you have the experience is negative in this case. If you voted ten times and you’re a pro-lifer, you’re going to have a tough time when all of a sudden you become a pro-choicer.
For example, when that whole thing about the double citizenship came out, my dad walked into my office and said, “you’re gonna have to relinquish your Italian citizenship.” I said, why would I do that? And, he said, “Well if you ever wanna go into politics, you can’t have two citizenships.” Who said that? Scheer’s actually getting beat up because he tried to beat up other people for the same thing, so now he’s being told you’re contradicting your own complaints from the past.
Ultimately, the question that I don’t think anyone wants to answer is that everyone wants to do this as a two-step process—first you work on winning the leadership, and then you work on winning the general election—I don’t think this is the way this should be done. I think the person who should win the leadership should be the person who the party needs to feel could actually win a general election against Justin Trudeau.
TPM: You might be running, but you’re not 100 percent sure. What’s your strategy and how do you plan to win both the leadership vote and the general election?
VG: My big thing about the general election, Is that I believe everyone needs to be honest. Eveyone needs to realize that we were in an election where, for whatever reason, abortion suddenly became a conversation and blackface became a conversation. What really matters to Canadians was not actually discussed. Canadians don’t like this wishy-washy approach. We don’t like this approach where you answer us based on the latest polls.
TPM: Why do you believe that you would do a better job than MacKay, Poilievre, or O’Toole?
VG: I think that they would do a perfect politician’s job. The question is, is that what Canadians want? Do we need another politician who will tell them half-truths? That’s the key, if we want more of the same, any of those guys would be way better than me, if you actually want change … for example, I had one candidate approach me, and I won’t mention names, and he came to me with his most important things, and believe it or not, out of those things, senate reform was one of them. I looked at him, and I said, “Is this a joke? You want to talk about senate reform? 100 thousand Canadians have lost their jobs in the oil industry, and you want to talk about senate reform?”
I’d rather not say who it is, but if I run, I’d be more than happy to throw it at him in a debate because it is a joke. Senate reform is the last thing we should be talking about.
TPM: Your bid seems quite similar to Kevin O’Leary’s bid. O’Leary’s bid obviously didn’t work out, so why are you different?
VG: I’m not doing an O’Leary strategy, and I’ll tell you why. I’m not doing that because I’m not making inflammatory comments on twitter, I’m not issuing pictures of me machine gunning god knows what … It always seems like when we refer to Kevin O’Leary we try to be negative, you know, I want to remind everyone that O’Leary made 400 million dollars of personal wealth. He’s a success story in his own right. I have no problem necessarily with the comparison, because he’s a good guy, but I’m not Kevin O’Leary, I’m not going to insult people. I’m going to point out that the political class have disappointed Canadians in the last few years.
TPM: You mention the last election–what did you think of Andrew Scheer’s leadership in the last election?
VG: On a personal level, I think that Andrew is a very nice guy, I think he’s a very humble guy, a very sociable guy, he’s the kinda guy I would watch a hockey game with, so on a personal level I think he’s a great guy. As a politician, I’ve gotta be honest, I think the people he surrounded himself with were not necessarily his best friends—so, either they were not his best friends or they were the worst political strategists I know. You need a bilingual person, you need someone who can actually think and reflect in French. Because, when that French debate comes, you’re going to be interrupted before you can answer. You need to know about French culture, you need to speak French, understand it, or you’re outta the game. I don’t think Andrew was well advised on the importance of understanding French culture. I think the people who advise Andrew not to answer the abortion question were wrong, and I mean dead wrong. Those guys, they carry 75 percent of the blame of that election that was lost.
TPM: What policy would you want to see the government introduce, and what do you think of supply management?
VG: So for me right now, I would tell you before I would tackle or even consider tackling milk quotas, I would much rather tackle oil. Why are we under-taxing other items? How could we make recycled goods more attractive to people? What can we do to make recycled paper the first choice for people rather than new white paper? Because, the truth of the matter is, I would rather educate people on why the government is sucking and blowing at the same time when it over-taxes people on oil and asks them to use less of it. You know, if everyone stopped using oil tomorrow, we would have a bankrupt government.
TPM: How likely are you to run as a percentage?
VG: So, let’s put it this way, if the candidates that have announced are the candidates that are coming, I’m 75 percent gonna run. There is no way I’m gonna let the candidate who have come out now be the ones who go into the next general election. The only candidates that have announced will give Justin Trudeau a third mandate. If Jean Charest announces then I will openly say that I will support him. That is the guy that I think can actually stand up to Trudeau.
TPM: So if Jean Charest runs you won’t run, but if he doesn’t, your 75 percent going to run?
VG: That’s correct.