With Kevin O’Leary out, Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer now shares the field with 12 other candidates in a race to become the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Celebrity investor O’Leary shocked many this week when he announced he would step aside. Scheer, however, was not among those who were surprised.
“(O’Leary) kind of had a bizarre campaign from start to finish, coming in very late, missing all the official debates,” Scheer said.
“I was always wondering if he was actually serious about winning, or finishing because, to me, I think he saw an opportunity to get a lot of free publicity and some name recognition – and he may have accomplished that.”
At a news conference on Wednesday, O’Leary said if he was leader, he didn’t think he would have the numbers in Quebec to win the next election in 2019. He then endorsed candidate Maxine Bernier.
Based on the latest polls, Bernier and Scheer would both be considered front runners in the race now.
Whoever wins, Scheer said conservatives need a leader who can unify the party, someone who can articulate a positive message for the next election.
“That doesn’t change with Kevin out,” Scheer said. “In fact, if anything, if probably helps, because his approach was polarizing and he’s backed a candidate who is also polarizing, that has a lot of policies that don’t enjoy a vast level of support within our own party.”
The Saskatchewan MP noted O’Leary added a lot to the race, to the party overall – helping sell more than 30,000 memberships during his campaign.
“Those are people who have come into the conservative party tent and hopefully if they like what they see, hopefully we’ll get them to stick around,” Scheer added.
“He had a bit of bizarre campaign. It didn’t really fit the mold for a traditional bid for leadership of a party. But at the end of the day, I do think we’re better off for his involvement in the race.”