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Kevin O’Leary defends Dragons’ Den episode in which he touched a woman’s posterior

Kevin O'Leary speaks during a Conservative Party leadership debate at the Manning Centre conference, on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017 in Ottawa.

Justin Tang/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Conservative leadership candidate Kevin O'Leary once touched a woman's posterior during an episode of Dragons' Den on CBC, but said on Friday that she wasn't offended by his move at the time.

A candidate from Alberta appeared on the show with a proposal for an investment in her company, Monjeloco Jeans, which makes form-fitting pants. The product was worn by models who appeared on the show.

"Let's see these bums," Mr. O'Leary said as he listened to the pitch and walked toward one of the models. "Can I touch one? I want to touch one for sure."

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In 2013, Nora Furber, the owner of the company who was unsuccessful in attracting an investment from the Dragons, told the St. Albert Gazette that the judges had previously asked if it would be okay for them to touch the models. She acknowledged that on television, it looked as though the models were taken by surprise.

Asked about the incident after a debate at the Manning Centre Conference in Ottawa, Mr. O'Leary said that individual snippets of his time on television should not be taken out of context.

"There's about 10,000 hours of tape, I've had a long career in television, and I think you're going to find pieces of it chopped up into all kinds of incontextual moments," Mr. O'Leary said. "Some of that tape is so old I have hair. So at the end of the day you're going to see it dragged out by Liberals, but [voters] are going to be able to distinguish the difference between what is great television, and what is policy. And that's actually what matters."

He added that there is a clear difference between the Kevin O'Leary that is a television star and Kevin O'Leary the rookie politician.

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"My point is that in the end of the day, that is television, it's not policy. This is a different world we're in here, we're talking about an economy that's collapsing, no jobs for millennials, and you want to talk about reality TV? I think you're missing the point," he told reporters.

Asked by a reporter whether he had asked permission before touching the woman, Mr. O'Leary responded: "I honestly don't remember, but I'm sure she wasn't offended. She was obviously trying to sell a deal to a bunch of Dragons and I hope she was successful. At the end of the day she was an entrepreneur seeking capital. I'm very proud of that format and what we did for Canadian men and women."

He added that in his time on television, he has found most success with female entrepreneurs.

"As a matter of fact my most successful deals now after 10 years of being an investor on this format are all companies run by women," he said.

"I'm a big supporter of women entrepreneurs."

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About the Authors
Parliamentary reporter

Daniel Leblanc studied political science at the University of Ottawa and journalism at Carleton University. He became a full-time reporter in 1998, first at the Ottawa Citizen and then in the Ottawa bureau of The Globe and Mail. More

Parliamentary reporter

Laura Stone is a reporter in The Globe's Ottawa bureau. She joined The Globe in February 2016. Before that, she was an online and TV reporter for Global News in Ottawa. Laura has done stints at the Toronto Star, Postmedia News and the Vancouver Province. More

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