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Published: Fri, April 28, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Kevin O'Leary to quit Tory leadership race, support Bernier

Kevin O'Leary to quit Tory leadership race, support Bernier

High-profile businessman Kevin O'Leary dropped out of the race Wednesday, throwing his support behind Bernier who favours free trade over supply management "cartels" in dairy and poultry.

O'Leary is set to throw his support behind Maxime Bernier after dropping our of the race, the Toronto Sun has confirmed.

O'Leary's stated reason for leaving is that he didn't feel that he could win Quebec in the next federal election, a failure that he felt would hand Justin Trudeau a second term as prime minister.

"It's selfish to just take the leadership and say, 'Great, I'm the leader, now in 24 months I will lose for the party, '" the frank-talking "Shark Tank" star told a news conference in Toronto.

In dramatic fashion he referred to the Liberals as "darkness" and "evil".

The party has already started mailing ballots to party members, and O'Leary's name is included. In order to do this, I said I would have to deliver the Conservative Party a majority mandate in 2019 so that we could reverse Trudeau's irresponsible and destructive policies.

So here is what I'm going to do; I'm withdrawing my candidacy from the Leadership Race and throwing my full support behind Max.

When he learned that ballots had already been printed and mailed, he made a decision to act, picking up a phone at 1:30 a.m.to call Bernier, a longtime Quebec MP, to pledge his support. "This can not be allowed to happen", O'Leary said in a statement posted on his Facebook page.

On Wednesday morning O'Leary's campaign was functioning as usual, with a fundraising pitch going out just hours before he would announce his decision to leave the race - an announcement preempted by a Bernier campaign source leaking the news to the media early that afternoon.

O'Leary claims to have sold 35,335 party memberships to "a whole new generation of young Canadians, many of whom are new to the Conservative Party". "He's been focused a lot on his winnability", said O'Leary senior advisor Mike Coates, global vice-chairman of PR firm Hill and Knowlton Strategies.

"I've met Maxime Bernier", Lang said.

"Defining Quebec is...they're the Florida of Canada".

"It is the Florida of Canada", O'Leary, who had struggled to learn French in time to boost his chances against Bernier, in reference to the province's history of determining the outcome of Canada's federal elections.

"It's an opportunity to go and court the voters who were ready to make their first choice Mr".

The thought of his two adult children buried by that kind of debt was unthinkable, O'Leary said.

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