Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday April 27, 2017
Kevin O’Leary drops out of Conservative leadership race, will endorse Maxime Bernier
Former Dragons’ Den TV star believes he cannot defeat Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in next election
Kevin O’Leary is dropping out of the Conservative leadership race and will endorse Maxime Bernier.
The businessman and reality TV star is ending his campaign only hours before the last leadership debate in Toronto, and two days before party members can start casting their ballots.
O’Leary is confident he could win the Conservative race, but now believes he cannot defeat Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the next election, multiple sources tell CBC News.
He has cited his failure to gain traction in Quebec and his poor French-language skills as reasons for dropping out of the leadership race.
“I have extremely high likelihood of winning the leadership race, but no way to win the election because of Quebec,” he said in an interview with the Globe and Mail on Wednesday. “You have to win 30 seats. So, who can do that? It’s Bernier.”
“He’s a front-runner,” O’Leary said. “I like Max. I can work with him.”
n a statement sent to reporters, O’Leary said he has “worked like hell on this campaign.”
“This was not an easy decision for me to make but after much thought and deliberation, it is the right one for the Conservative Party and the country,” he said. “I want the DNA of my policies and objectives to survive into the general election. The candidate that best mirrors my policies is Maxime Bernier.”
Bernier will hold a press conference at 4:30 p.m. ET in Toronto to discuss the developments. CBCNews.ca will carry it live.
O’Leary has spent the better part of his relatively short campaign — he entered the race in January — taking jabs at Trudeau, branding the prime minister “surfer dude” and calling his leadership a “disaster” for the country. He has also said Trudeau negotiating with U.S. President Donald Trump is like “Bambi versus Godzilla.”
O’Leary has not left his Conservative opponents unscathed, and, despite his endorsement of Bernier, the two candidates have sparred over allegations of membership fraud and vote buying. The Quebec MP called O’Leary a “loser” after he went public with concerns about vote rigging. (CBC News)