Kevin O'Leary throwing event at Toronto castle to pay off $500K campaign debt
Published Tuesday, January 23, 2018 7:01PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 24, 2018 9:25AM EST
Kevin O’Leary plans to throw a glitzy fundraiser at a Toronto castle with celebrity guests this spring in hopes of paying off more than $500,000 in debt racked up during his failed Conservative leadership bid.
In an interview with CTV’s Power Play, O’Leary said he plans to invite NBA owner Mark Cuban and real estate maven Barbara Corcoran to the event, held at Toronto’s tony Casa Loma.
“We’re taking over Casa Loma and we’re going to have one heck of a night,” O’Leary said Tuesday.
O’Leary’s campaign owes a total of $529,184, according to Elections Canada records. But Elections Canada rules prevent a candidate from paying more than $25,000 to their own campaign.
If fees are not repaid within three years after the end of the race, a candidate could face three months in jail and a fine up to $2,000.
O’Leary said he’s not happy with the rules, and that he petitioned Elections Canada to allow him to personally pay off the debt. His request was denied.
“It’s a bit of a perverse system. I think we should make a small adjustment to the rules and force people that end up in deficit to pay their bills, particularly to the small vendors,” he said. “I have the financial means to pay this off. I should’ve done it a long time ago.”
According to Elections Canada records, O’Leary owes money to several small businesses. For example, he owes $508.50 to the Cheese Boutique in Toronto and $746.33 to PEI's Upstreet Craft Brewing.
O’Leary’s Toronto fundraiser will be modelled off the Aspen Institute, which hosts conversations with thinkers from a wide array of backgrounds. O’Leary will host the chat and then open the floor up to the audience to ask questions.
O’Leary added that, for every dollar raised at the event, he’ll donate another dollar to a charity that supports Canadian entrepreneurs.
O’Leary bowed out of the year-long leadership race in May and threw his support behind Maxime Bernier. Bernier ended up coming second to Andrew Scheer, who won the party’s highest seat by less than one percentage point.
Despite dropping out of the race, O’Leary said he still plans to be a prominent voice during next year’s federal election.
“I intend to be one heck of an agitator when we finally get to this next election, because I see lots of problems brewing for our Mr. Trudeau, and I can’t wait to point them out to Canadian voters,” he said.