Published: Fri, April 28, 2017
Markets | By Terence Owen

Kevin O'Leary quits leadership race

Kevin O'Leary quits leadership race

On Wednesday, though, the 62-year-old exorcised himself from the race hours before the Conservative leadership debate.

O'Leary said despite his front-runner status nationally, he doesn't have the kind of support in Quebec he thinks he needs, not just for the leadership but for the next general election.

It was just last week that Kevin O'Leary reached out to Manitobans and asked for their vote.

Global News has learned that the billionaire businessman and celebrity is leaving the leadership race and throwing his support behind his former opponent Maxime Bernier.

When he learned that ballots had already been printed and mailed, he chose to act, picking up a phone at 1:30 a.m.to call Bernier, a longtime Quebec MP, to pledge his support.

While O'Leary has said he'll back Bernier, B.C. businessman Rick Peterson said he hoped O'Leary supporters would look in his direction, given he's also an outsider businessman with no political experience.

The Conservative Party will lose the next federal election with Maxime Bernier and his libertarian-style views leading the way, opponent Erin O'Toole predicts. "Someone who will command the support of Canadians from every region of the country and who can build a consensus among all members of the party", O'Leary said.

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As O'Leary's worries peaked over the weekend, regular communications between the O'Leary and Bernier campaigns turned to the possibility of O'Leary's dropping out and backing Bernier.

There's no guarantee that O'Leary's support will go to Bernier and none of his supporters are obligated to do so.

He skipped all the party's French-language candidate debates.

Though he denied this had any influence on his decision, O'Leary noted he was recently on TV with Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, "defending" Canada in what some fear is a looming trade war with the United States.

O'Leary says his latest polling numbers showed he is weak in Quebec, and he decided that could hurt the Conservative Party's chances of winning the next federal election against the Liberals.

"I've built a trust over a decade with them on television, and to be able to explain our relationship in a unique way, in a way that they will trust".

"I'm in a unique situation", O'Leary said. "And I'm going to talk about what we mean to Americans".

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