TV personality and businessman Kevin O’Leary has announced his surprise withdrawal from the Conservative Leadership race, only hours before a televised TV debate.
O’Leary, who was seen as a front-runner in the race, announced his withdrawal due to his inability to speak French, and his potential obstacles in winning over voters in Quebec.
O’Leary at the same time endorsed Maxime Bernier, the former Foreign Affairs Minister under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and his frequent rival during the campaign. Bernier hails from Quebec and is fluent in both English and French.
The decision by O’Leary to withdraw comes less than three days after the final membership numbers from the Conservative Party. In the May 27th contest, 259,000 voters would be eligible to vote, while 35,000 of them were signed up by O’Leary. This number, lower than what was previously expected, has led some to speculate that his campaign feared not being able to win.
The star of Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den ran a campaign focused on economic and immigration issues, positioning himself as the only reasonable alternative to Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
There remain 13 candidates in the leadership race. The eventual winner will become the next Opposition Leader.