Kevin O’Leary is withdrawing from the Conservative Party of Canada's leadership race and will instead support rival candidate Maxime Bernier.
The two will be holding a joint press conference in Toronto on Wednesday afternoon.
In his first televised interview since announcing his withdrawal, O’Leary told BNN he believes his support will be the ‘king-making move’ allowing Bernier to unify the Conservatives across the country, and particularly in Quebec.
“I’m going to work with Max… I threw in my support to him,” he said. “I believe this will be the king-making move. He will become the leader and then I’m going to go to town. Anything I can do to get rid of Trudeau.”
O’Leary boasted of the bright future he sees for his party, projecting a substantial victory in the next federal election, expected in 2019.
“It won’t be an election, it will be an exorcism,” he told BNN. “And then we will cast aside all of Trudeau’s policies.”
“He has damaged this country… Four years of Trudeau is enough. We have to wait another, let’s call it 200 years, before [a] Trudeau gets back in there.”
O’Leary dismissed criticism that he spent too much time in the United States during the leadership race. O’Leary continued to make appearances on U.S. media, but missed several leadership debates here in Canada. “People came to understand that I represent Canada to Americans, I am a well-known Canadian there,” said O’Leary.
The two Conservative candidates were identified as the front runners in the campaign and were often at each other’s throats. The O’Leary campaign had accused an unnamed rival campaign of using prepaid credit cards to improperly buy memberships in Ontario.
That rival campaign was later identified as Bernier’s. In denying the claims, Bernier called O’Leary a “bad candidate” in an email to supporters last month.
Still, the relationship wasn’t always acrimonious. Before the campaign, O’Leary had privately expressed admiration for Bernier’s intellect, platform and campaign organization. On several occasions, O’Leary has said that his interest in politics originally stemmed from a desire to influence the next leader and only considered running himself once it looked like he had a shot at winning.