Cash May Stop Kevin O’Leary Of ‘Shark Tank’ From Pursuing Canadian Political Office

For months now, Shark Tank investor and television personality Kevin O’Leary has toyed with the possibility of running for the leadership of one of Canada’s major political parties. As The Inquisitr previously reported, he ruled out a bid for the left-leaning New Democratic Party, leaving the Conservatives, who lost the October, 2015, election to the ruling Liberal Party.

But as CTV News reported earlier this month, O’Leary may have a cash problem: not that he doesn’t have any, but that Canada’s strict campaign finance laws won’t let him spend it. As is clearly laid out on the Elections Canada website, leadership candidates are forbidden from contributing more than $25,000 to their own campaigns. In addition, each Canadian has a total cap of $1,525 to give to candidates.

This flies in the face of what O’Leary told CTV News in a separate interview: “I don’t need to raise money.” O’Leary was explaining why he has decided to wait to declare a candidacy.

The Conservative Party is charging each leadership candidate $100,000 just to enter the contest: a $50,000 registration fee and $50,000 compliance deposit to ensure adherence to party rules. In order to put his hat in the ring, therefore, O’Leary will have to convince enough people to contribute $1,525 — or less — to make up the $75,000 that would remain of the fee if he paid $25,000 out of his own pocket. The same rules apply, of course, when the actual leadership campaign is underway. According to CTV News, the party has put a cap of $5 million on candidate spending.

O’Leary may not have made his run for the Conservative leadership official, but in the past two weeks he’s appeared on social media with declared candidate Tony Clement, a current Member of Parliament, who was not shy about making a dismissive remark about the current Prime Minister.

Clement is one of four declared candidates in the contest so far.

But even if O’Leary doesn’t go ahead with his political run and loses that platform to espouse his financial philosophies, he will still have the ears of entrepreneurs who pitch him and the other investors on Shark Tank. In an interview with CNBC last Spring, he revealed that an entire season is filmed in a series of marathon taping days.

The sharks start taping at 8 a.m. and may still be at it 12 hours later, getting in about eight or 12 pitches. As Shark Tank viewers know, each episode features about 10 minutes of four different pitches. The longest pitch O’Leary experienced lasted for two and a half hours, and the shark put the blame squarely on the entrepreneur.

“The guy was an idiot — he just couldn’t make a decision. The sharks were interested, but getting him to do a deal was a huge problem.”

O’Leary also revealed there’s an on-set psychiatrist for those pitches that don’t go as planned and that entrepreneurs can’t leave the set during the pitch except to consult with advisors.

CTV News reported O’Leary’s worth to be between CAD$300 million and CAD$400 million. He’s made that money in various capacities, including through his investment firm. Business Insider reported this month that O’Shares Investments, a division of O’Leary Fund Management, has created 17 new exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to join the five O’Shares already has trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

If O’Leary decides he can rustle up enough interested Conservatives to back his bid for the leadership, he still has plenty of time to make it official. The deadline to enter the race is more than six months away: February 24, 2017. The party will choose a new leader to succeed former Prime Minister Stephen Harper on May 27, 2017.

[Photo by Aaron Davidson/Getty Images]