Pierre Poilievre will not run for Conservative leadership

Published Jan. 23, 2020 4:45 p.m. ET
Updated Jan. 23, 2020 8:49 p.m. ET

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OTTAWA -- Longtime Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre will not seek party leadership, citing his family life as the reason for backing down.

Poilievre was set to run for the party’s top job, as CTV News first reported on Jan. 7.

In a statement posted on Facebook and Twitter, Poilievre said while he’s received positive feedback during his travels across the country rallying support for his campaign, his family life took a hit.

"I knew this would be difficult for my family life. But I didn’t imagine how much. This is even harder because I had just spent the previous 18 months campaigning to return to my seat in the recent federal election, in which I missed most of our baby’s first year."

Speculation around the Ottawa-area MP’s bid for leadership came shortly after outgoing leader Andrew Scheer announced his pending resignation.

In an interview on CTV’s Question Period on Dec. 22, Poilievre said he’d have to mull the decision over with his family before entering the race.

"We’ll see what they have to say over turkey dinner and report back to you," said Poilievre.

In his statement Thursday, Poilievre added his "heart is not fully engaged in the leadership race. Without being all in, I cannot be in at all."

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He will continue his duties as the representative for the Carleton riding and hasn’t formally endorsed another leadership candidate.

His wife, Anaida Poilievre, said in a statement on Twitter that the decision was “necessary” and “wasn’t taken lightly.”

“Time cannot be bought back, and our baby girl is growing way too fast,” she tweeted, adding a heart emoji and a baby emoji.

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“While we felt ready to tackle this challenge together as family, logistically it became a challenge bigger than expected. We wish to be together more, and I hope ppl (sic) can understand that.”

Former Conservative cabinet minister John Baird was assigned to chair Poilievre’s campaign and Jenni Byrne, a former senior adviser for Stephen Harper, was to take on an advisory role – sources told CTV News earlier this month.

During an interview on CTV’s Power Play Thursday, Byrne said she’s "very disappointed" in Poilievre’s decision but also "very proud" of what they accomplished in the few short weeks of their campaign.

"He was organizing, there was no secret there. He’d built a team of people like myself who were behind him. He’s a veteran MP, he’s fought in the trenches," she said. "But the toll that it was taking on his family was something he didn’t want to proceed with."

Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu – the first woman to put her name forward for leadership – said she was surprised by the news.

"He was definitely out talking to all the MPs and getting signatures so today’s announcement was a real surprise to me," Gladu told Power Play host Evan Solomon.

When asked whether this opens the door for her own campaign to make significant headway, she said: "Well you know there are more votes available for me and there’s certainly more money available for me to get for my campaign which is something I need."

On Wednesday, former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose put an end to rumors that she would run.

In a video posted on Facebook, Ambrose said she thought long and hard about the decision but ultimately came to the conclusion that she’ll remain invested in the private sector.


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