Celebrity investor and reality-TV star Kevin O’Leary, who rattled Conservative cages three months ago when he joined the party’s leadership race, did it again Wednesday by quitting a contest observers believe he had every chance of winning.
O’Leary’s stunning news — he’s throwing his support behind Quebec rival Maxime Bernier — appeared to catch even some members of his campaign team off-guard as they gathered to prepare for Wednesday’s final leadership debate.
Behind the scenes, however, O’Leary has been mulling the idea for about a week, say sources, ever more convinced that as leader, he might never be able to rally enough support in Quebec to deliver a majority Conservative mandate in 2019.
“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.
“That’s not right. That’s just wrong.”
The tipping point, he said, came when he saw Conservative membership numbers overall that were even higher than he expected, which meant he didn’t have as large a share of the support as he thought he did.
When he learned that ballots had already been printed and mailed, he decided to act, picking up a phone at 1:30 a.m. to call Bernier, a longtime Quebec MP, to pledge his support.
I’m mixed on this, O’Leary on one hand, could have been as bad as Trump and on another hand, could have been an interesting leader or at least opposition leader…