OTTAWA - Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre is bowing out of his party's leadership race, aborting his campaign before it really begins.
Poilievre said in a Thursday-afternoon stream of tweets he is overwhelmed by the support he received as he organized an effort to replace Andrew Scheer when the Tories choose a new leader in June.
But the 40-year-old Ottawa MP, who's been in Parliament since his surprise defeat of the Liberals' then-minister of defence David Pratt in 2004 when he was in his 20s, said his heart was not fully in it as he tries to balance family life with politics. Poilievre said he “mostly missed” the first year of his daughter's life as he campaigned to keep his own seat in October's federal election.
“I knew it would be hard on my family life to do this. But I did not realize how hard,” he said.
Poilievre said he's continuing as the MP for Carleton. He's also the Conservatives' finance critic under Scheer, with a high profile in the House of Commons and a gift for getting under Liberal ministers' skins.
“I am not currently supporting any other candidate. But I will be looking for a strong fiscal conservative who will unleash free enterprise so people can achieve their dreams through hard work,” he said.
Poilievre is the third high-profile contender to publicly bail out of the Conservative leadership contest in as many days, following former Quebec premier Jean Charest and former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose.
Former cabinet minister Peter MacKay and Ontario MPs Marilyn Gladu and Erin O'Toole are the three most prominent contenders still in the mix.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2020.