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Kevin O'Leary has declared his candidacy in the Conservative Party of Canada's leadership race. Sam Aronov / Shutterstock, Inc.
Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne

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Front-runner Kevin O’Leary backs out of Conservative leadership race

Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne

TORONTO, April 26, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Kevin O’Leary has dropped out of the Conservative leadership race and thrown his support behind Quebec MP Maxime Bernier.

The shocking development, which was reported first today in the Globe and Mail, is good news for Campaign Life Coalition.

“He’s no friend of ours,” said Jeff Gunnarson, vice president of the national pro-life lobby group.

“We’re glad to see O’Leary gone. He’s got a history of hostility to social conservatives, and we rated him dead last of all the candidates in our voter’s guide.”

O’Leary cited Quebec as his nemesis.

"It's for the sake of the party that I do this, and the country,” he told the Globe. “Because I can't deliver Quebec. I can't win. That's my opinion. I wish it was different.”

With just over four weeks to go in the race, O’Leary was considered the front-runner among the 14 candidates.

Now Bernier will move into that spot, according to O’Leary, who told the Globe he thinks most of his supporters will switch to Bernier, which will give the latter a “very, very, very powerful get-out the vote team.”

A Mainstreet Research poll for iPolitics released just hours before O’Leary dropped out had O’Leary well ahead, with Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer a distant second and Bernier third.

An MP from Beauce, Quebec since 2006, the 54-year-old Bernier has a pro-abortion voting record. He has also marched in the pro-homosexual Pride Parade.

However, during the leadership campaign, Bernier said he’s willing to reopen the abortion debate if that’s what his caucus wants, Campaign Life notes in its candidate voter guide.

Bernier voted for the Liberal “gender rights” Bill 16, but has since pledged to repeal it on free-speech grounds. He opposes euthanasia.

“For those who support Bernier because of his outreach to social conservative voters, O’Leary’s endorsement could give them pause,” Gunnarson told LifeSiteNews.

Scheer, second in the iPolitics poll, has a pro-life voting record, opposes euthanasia, has never marched in a Pride Parade, and voted against C-16.

He hasn’t pledged to repeal C-16, and has said he won’t reopen the abortion debate.

O’Leary’s stunning game-changer comes as the remaining 13 candidates prepare for the final leadership debate in Toronto tonight.

Campaign Life has endorsed MP Brad Trost and former MP Pierre Lemieux as supportable candidates in the Conservative race, which will be decided May 27.

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