OTTAWA — Conservative leadership candidate Kevin O’Leary was a no-show at his first campaign event in Winnipeg on Monday night, Skyping into the event instead because he said bad weather in Toronto "cancelled" his flight.
It turns out his plane wasn’t cancelled — he missed it.
O’Leary, a reality-TV star, is considered one of the front-runners even though he didn’t enter the race until January, months after most of his competitors. He is in full campaign mode, with events scheduled this week in Winnipeg, Saskatoon and the Ontario cities of Kingston and Waterloo.
His Winnipeg event was a meet-and-greet with Conservative members at the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre on Donald Street at 6 p.m. It was to be the first time he campaigned in the city.
Around 6:30 p.m., he uploaded a video to Twitter, tagged "Here @ the airport lounge in Toronto, flight to Winnipeg was cancelled due to weather. I’ll be Skyping in to my event but I will be back!"
"Everything’s delayed. Everything’s cancelled. We’ve got a wicked snowstorm hitting the entire East Coast," he says in the accompanying video. "And I’m really bummed... you know why? Because we were going to meet tonight at 7 o’clock in Winnipeg and I’m not going to be able to make it. So we’re going to do it by Skype. But I’m really bummed. Do you know why? Because we have a band there, too, and I was going to jam the blues with them. We would have had some fun tonight but I’m going to be coming back. I swear to you, I’ll come back."
However, no flights to Winnipeg from Toronto were cancelled Monday, a fact picked up by a Tory on Twitter, and confirmed by the Winnipeg airport.
O’Leary’s media agent, Ari Laskin, said the candidate’s scheduled flight was an Air Canada direct route that landed in Winnipeg at 6:39 p.m., about a half-hour behind schedule. However Laskin said "due to meetings at the office in Toronto, Mr. O’Leary was not able to make this flight and with de-icing, etc., the flights from Pearson International were delayed."
Weather delayed rescheduling efforts, and the next available flight didn’t take off for about 90 minutes. It arrived in Winnipeg after midnight, more than an hour after the O’Leary event ended.
Laskin was asked why O’Leary said his flight was cancelled.
"I believe he misspoke," Laskin said.
"When the team saw that he would only arrive after midnight, we made a call to have a Skype interview so we would be able to speak with some members that had come to his event. We regret not being able to join them in person, but we are not able to control the weather."