Businessman and reality television star Kevin O’Leary is dropping out of the federal Conservative leadership race and endorsing Quebec MP Maxime Bernier.
Global News has confirmed O’Leary is withdrawing around 4:30 p.m. ET, just hours before a final leadership debate was to be held on Wednesday night.
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The news is likely to send shock-waves through the campaign headquarters of the remaining 13 candidates. O’Leary was considered a front-runner in the hotly contested race, and had shown no signs of backing out ahead of Wednesday afternoon.
On Wednesday morning, he was still tweeting out calls for donations: