Final Conservative Leadership Debate Tonight

"Shark Tank" star Kevin O'Leary is dropping out of the Canadian Conservative party leadership race and endorsing a rival.

The Canadian Press confirmed O'Leary is making the announcement later today, with few hours to spare before the remaining candidates face off in a final debate showdown before next month's vote.

O'Leary, who was often criticized during his campaign for not speaking French, went on to say Bernier would have his "full support" and that he would be directing his supporters to back him as well. O'Leary had been a favorite at one point and had the support of around 20% of voters but his negatives were extremely high with many party members saying he would be last on their ballots.

"That's not right. That's just wrong". "We are all Conservatives and we will support another Conservative leader going forward".

Mr O'Leary said he had failed to gain support in the French-speaking province of Quebec.

Despite his efforts, O'Leary won little Conservative caucus support, leading a former Stephen Harper strategist to posit he was the worst-placed candidate to maintain party unity.

On the campaign trail, the two weren't exactly the best of friends.

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

Bev Shipley says there are still very strong candidates that he believes can lead the party and become Prime Minister next year.

Q: What was your reaction when you heard that Kevin O'Leary had chose to drop out? He said he still needs the funds and will continue to raise money, though he didn't explain why. Some have been overtaken in subsequent ballots in delegated conventions, as was the case with Joe Clark (overtaken by Brian Mulroney) in 1983, and Michael Ignatieff (passed on the inside by Stéphane Dion) in 2006 at the Liberal convention.

Rumours swirled that other candidates might also consider leaving the race in O'Leary's wake.

The final debate among federal Conservative leadership candidates is tonight in Toronto. "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 in the email.

He also acknowledged that he and Bernier were in a statistical tie for first place. "They grew up with me; I've been on television forever".

The Conservative party said Tuesday there are 259,010 members eligible to vote. "I'm well known to Americans in America, and I'm informed about the way they view Canada".

"The real reason is I only got the 12% in Quebec".

One concern cited by a number of MPs was O'Leary's inability to speak French. "Trudeau has never run a business, he's never had a negotiation like this", O'Leary said in an interview.

  • Leroy Wright