LISTEN: Kevin O'Leary commits to learning French — but not for upcoming debate

Kevin O'Leary

Celebrity businessman and as-yet-undeclared Conservative leadership candidate Kevin O'Leary outlined part of his vision for the country during his appearance Wednesday morning on CJAD 800's Leslie Roberts Show.

He also addressed the knocks against his potential candidacy — particularly the ones surrounding his lack of French.

He told Roberts that he learned some while spending a part of his childhood in Quebec, and says he's committed to learning it."

"I want to speak French because Canada's a unique place," he says. "I want to get back those chops, and so I'm going to hire a tutor."

Last week, one of the already-declared Tory leadership candidates, Andrew Scheer, accused O'Leary of holding off on a formal declaration of his candidacy, because he doesn't want to take part in a French-language candidates' debate in Quebec City next Tuesday.

"That doesn't really make sense," O'Leary says. 'Everybody knows I don't speak French, and there's another reason, frankly. You can't have a debate with 14 people. They're each getting 20-second soundbites. You've got to cull the herd."

O'Leary was born in Montreal, and in spite of the hardships of recent decades, still believes Montreal has the potential to become a great place to do business.

"There's no reason that people should leave Montreal. This is a unique city in North America, we just need to open it up for business. The first thing you have to do — because we're competing with the U.S. — we have to have the same corporate taxes, and the same personal taxes, so that when new money comes, it says 'do I go to Canada, or do I do to the U.S.? Which place do I go?'"

He also laid into prime minister Justin Trudeau for not reversing himself on the "stupid" idea of carbon taxation.