The federal Conservative leadership race has lost its highest profile candidate.
Reality TV star and business mogul Kevin O’Leary is dropping out of the race and throwing his support behind Maxime Bernier.
North Okanagan Shuswap Tory MP Mel Arnold was surprised at the news, and says it changes the race.
“I hope it’s the start of a little bit more thinning of the candidates to really focus on the clear leaders. I’ve thrown my support behind Erin O’Toole. I have a little bit of a challenge on Mr. Bernier’s position on supply management. I know how important that is to our producers in this area. Erin O’Toole now has 29 MP’s supporting him, more than other other candidate,” Arnold tells Kiss FM.
There are now 13 candidates in the race with Arnold saying Bernier, O’Toole, and Andrew Scheer are the top three.
Arnold says O’Leary brought a lot of attention to the race.
“I want to thank Mr. O’Leary for the notoriety he’s brought to the party,” adds Arnold. “He’s put a lot of time and energy into it. He’s seen that we need to have strong representation across the country, and need to avoid the regional differences, in order to win in 2019.”
Arnold says the party membership is up to 259,000.
“It’s a record number for the party. We’re seeing strong interest and support across the country. Mr’ O’ Leary’s participation was part of it, but also people aren’t happy with the current administration.”
Arnold says ballots are being mailed to members this week, with the winner to be announced May 27.
O’Leary told a news conference he felt he could win the leadership, but wasn’t getting much support in Quebec, and didn’t think he could beat Justin Trudeau in a federal election