Kevin O'Leary Drops Out Of Conservative Party Race

Conservative leadership candidate Kevin O'Leary scrums with the media after speaking at the Empire Club luncheon in Toronto on Friday

The Conservative Party of Canada will decide its new leader by May 27 to face Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of the Liberal Party in the 2019 national election.

Celebrity businessman Kevin O'Leary has made a decision to drop out of the federal Conservative Party leadership race.

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.

While appearing amicable during the Wednesday afternoon press conference, O'Leary and Bernier traded barbs on the campaign trail.

His announcement comes just hours before the final Conservative leadership debate and two days before part members begin electing their new leader.

Still, O'Leary had plenty of assets: instant recognition, thanks to years of television exposure; a public image as a savvy financial manager; and a brash, no-nonsense, outsider approach that echoed the unlikely ascent of U.S. President Donald Trump.

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"I got into this to win, not to be a kingmaker", Coates said pointedly, speaking to the Post Wednesday before attending a campaign "wake" instead of that night's debate.

"While it may sound wonderful, and you may think you are dealing with security issues, all you're doing is labelling me, as a Conservative from Ontario, somebody who is intolerant and I will not stand for that", she said.

It's unclear how the late-campaign withdrawal will impact logistics.

Early on, Bernier faced off against rival Andrew Scheer, whose status in the race has bumped up a few notches after O'Leary's departure. The ballots are ranked, with each voting member able to mark down their top 10 choices. However, the party finished processing the memberships sooner than expected - and announced a higher number of eligible voters than expected, at more than 259,000. He's supporting Maxime but I can't support Maxime.

"This is bad!" Facebook visitor Nathan Welbourn wrote on O'Leary's page after the news broke. "I don't even know what to say and I can reassure you Kevin my vote is not going to Bernier". "And the likelihood of gaining a lot of seats in Quebec is low".

O'Leary endorsed Maxime Bernier, a French-speaking Member of Parliament from Quebec, in the race.

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