Conservative Kevin O’Leary may skip Conservative leadership vote in January

A judge Monday scheduled the bail hearing for Conservative Party leadership candidate Kevin O’Leary for the same day as his immigration hearing in Toronto, adding to speculation he may skip the contested leadership vote next month.

O’Leary, a billionaire businessman, media mogul and reality TV star, faces a possible ban from Canada for violating a foreign-money ban if his immigration hearing on a work permit is not concluded by Dec. 12.

The chair of the Canadian citizenship and immigration committee, Nazam Hamed, said the immigration hearing will be the Friday before the Conservative leadership vote Jan. 27.

O’Leary’s hearing came during a recess that followed a routine hearing on the eligibility of three other leadership candidates.

Montreal businessman Maxime Bernier, who was in the immigration meeting, said he saw a transcript of the detention hearing and overheard O’Leary’s comments in their aftermath. O’Leary had spoken about one member of the Toronto police being charged with second-degree murder in the case.

“You cannot set bail in a murder trial. You can in a homicide trial,” Bernier told an Ottawa radio station. “It’s ironic that there’s a lot of comment on bail in one particular murder trial.”

Bernier’s comment appeared to be a sarcastic response to O’Leary’s prior remark to the judge at the detention hearing. “I am very grateful to the Toronto police. The very first thing they said was, ‘Your honor, it’s criminal homicide, it’s second-degree murder,’ ” O’Leary said, according to a transcript.

Police charged Brendan Guy Poulin, 46, of Maple, Ontario, with second-degree murder in the death of Basil Borutski. Borutski, 56, was arrested Oct. 28 after the body of Carol Culleton, 66, was found in her home. Borutski was found dead Nov. 7 in a downtown Ottawa hotel.

O’Leary was freed Tuesday on $500,000 bail, providing he does not leave Ontario.

Bernier said he could not support a Conservative candidate who had violated a campaign promise to stick to “100 percent financing within Canada.”

“I can’t support the person that, you know, had such a big campaign promise that he made, and broke it. That’s a big part of what politics is about, you know?” Bernier said.

There has been speculation O’Leary may skip the Conservative leadership vote because he has been restricted from traveling outside Canada. He has never campaigned outside the country. He has accepted donations from foreigners, including from a Vancouver businessman who sent him a check for more than $400,000 in July. O’Leary did not disclose that he was the recipient of the contribution.

O’Leary was immediately barred from foreign contributions by the party. He also was barred from campaign contributions from foreign sources for a year.

“As soon as we learned Kevin O’Leary had been the recipient of a foreign contribution, our lawyers looked at it and we could not authorize any contributions from foreign sources as well,” said Patrick Brown, the chair of the Conservatives’ immigration committee.

The rules allowed O’Leary to keep accepting foreign donations during the campaign, but donations are limited to $2,700 for federal and provincial election candidates, or $1,525 for party leadership. O’Leary was one of only three candidates to qualify for the leadership ballot. Brown said O’Leary should have filed those required reports when he received donations from foreign donors.

“If you cannot file these rules, you can’t campaign. Whether you can win or not, you’re out of the race,” Brown said.

He said O’Leary should have known the rules and that it was an error on the part of the party’s campaign organization.

“We shouldn’t have to be reporting or showing to these donors that we have these limits,” Brown said.

O’Leary’s spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

Bernier said he will continue his leadership campaign with Ontario MP Kellie Leitch, Erin O’Toole and Lisa Raitt.

“Kevin O’Leary made an error on foreign donations

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