Storied election loser John Turmel gets no joy from Ontario court
Perennial election loser John Turmel may be sitting this campaign out, but a Superior Court of Ontario judge handed him a different sort of setback this month when he tossed out his complaint about the way he was treated on CBC’s Dragons’ Den.
Mr. Turmel has run and lost in 73 Canadian elections – including runs at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. His woeful record earned him mention in the 1997 Guinness Book of World Records.
He taped a segment for the CBC program in 2009, trying to get the so-called Dragons to invest in a barter system in Brantford, Ont. He wanted them to buy $100,000 worth of chips, which they could use to spend $110,000 in community stores.
They weren’t impressed, even as he tried to explain that his chips wouldn’t be subject to inflation.
“Here’s what happened,” he says in a three-part Internet video he posted afterward to complain about his treatment. “I guess I didn’t make them too happy when I walked up and said, ‘Hey, if engineering winners is being a Dragon, meet the King of the Dragons.’”
The show aired in January, 2010, and he filed a lawsuit alleging slander and libel before the month was out. It wasn’t so much that the judges were mean – he was upset that his appearance had been edited down to 57 seconds.
“He has taken offence to the way the program was edited, aired and his treatment by the ‘Dragons,’” a ruling from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice states.
The original lawsuit was dismissed in August. But that wasn’t the end of the trouble for CBC – the network aired a repeat of the episode and posted an online video later that year, and found itself back in court to defend itself all over again.
It all came to an end last week, when Judge Harrison Arrell dismissed the case and pointed out in his ruling that the CBC had the right to air the episode whenever it wanted, and pointed out Mr. Turmel signed forms that said he may be “portrayed in a disparaging, defamatory, embarrassing or of an otherwise unfavourable nature which may expose [him] to public ridicule, humiliation or condemnation.”
He also pointed out that the show’s stars are under no obligation to actually understand everything that is presented to them: “The conclusion of the Dragons that the pitch they heard made no sense to them is not libel or slander.”