Reality tv star (ABC's Shark Tank) and businessman Kevin O'Leary threw in the towel today to become leader of Canada's Conservative Party, with the sudden epiphany that the ability to speak French in a bilingual nation might be an asset for a Prime Minister.
Kevin O'Leary is dropping out of the Conservative leadership race and endorsing 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 votes. O'Leary's name will remain on the ballots as they've already been printed and mailed, the party said.
O'Leary said Wednesday he was confident he could win the Conservative race, but raised doubts he could defeat Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the next election. He cited his failure to gain traction in Quebec and his poor French-language skills as reasons for dropping out of the leadership race.
"The Liberals politically own Quebec. Without growing the Conservative base in Quebec, beating Trudeau in 2019 would be a huge challenge," O'Leary said at press conference with reporters in Toronto.
"It would seem foolish, even selfish, to win the leadership knowing I don't have the path, a high probability [of winning the next federal election]. The likelihood of me gaining a lot of seats in Quebec was low. I was weak in Quebec, it's a fact, people know this."
O'Leary said Bernier was best placed to pick up seats for the party in the province. "Look at how many times Quebec has determined the federal outcomes. It is the Florida of Canada, it often decides for the country.