And then there was eight.
George Takach is the first Liberal leadership candidate to withdraw from the race. In a statement released Monday afternoon, Takach said he was grateful to be in the contest but is stepping down and supporting Justin Trudeau.
In a telephone interview with Yahoo! Canada News on Monday evening, Takach said he just felt it was the right time to withdraw.
"I was signing up supporters in the thousands, Justin was doing it in the the tens of thousands," he quipped
"I entered the race to win and it became pretty clear to me — particularly after the third debate — that he really is the guy that's going to light this party on fire and the country on fire."
Takach said he finalized his decision to step-down after a meeting with Trudeau.
"I had a long chat with him about three things and I got very very comfortable. Obviously on the national unity file, he's taking the NDP to task," he said.
"The second one: I was very keen not to allow any backroom deals with the NDP or the Greens or what's become the cooperation issue. He and I see very eye to eye on that. That was another requirement.
"And then thankfully I got comfortable on the economy as well. He's got good instincts, he is for markets which I think is important. It's interesting because I don't think the media has given him the credit that he should be given on the substantive stuff."
Takach is a prominent Bay Street technology lawyer whose strategy to win the leadership included a Geeks for George movement. In a recent interview with Yahoo!, he said that if he could sign-up just a fraction of the 1.5 million "techies" and "gamers" in the country, he could make the Liberal leadership into a real race.
While he was a political neophyte, Takach garnered some national media-attention and was able to rake-in respectable fundraising numbers.
In his statement, Monday, he said he would vie for a seat in Parliament in the 2015 election.
Here is the joint Trudeau/Takach statement in full:
“When I launched my campaign for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada three months ago, I wanted to lead a party that would transform our economy into one that would rely on innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainable development to secure our future prosperity. I wanted to lead a party that would bring people together, and give Canadians more rights, not less.
“Justin Trudeau has what it takes to be a great prime minister. He has brought an energy and purpose to the political scene and has proven himself to be an articulate leader focused on the future, not the past.
“Justin has the strength to lead a movement that can connect with Canadians from all walks of life, regions and communities. I share Justin’s vision of empowering Canadians through access to education and entrepreneurial opportunities. I also trust Justin’s instinct and ability on building a more fair and prosperous Canada by bringing people together.
“Our campaign was successful in other ways. Canada’s transformation from a resource-based economy to a digital one is now a central issue. We brought many policies and ideas to the table that will drive our economic growth and social progress in the years to come.
“To all my supporters, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for standing with me and the principles I believe in: fairness, economic transformation, and bringing people together. It’s been a great experience, and one I will remember fondly.
“I will be seeking a nomination as a Liberal candidate in the Toronto area for the 2015 election that will make Justin Trudeau the next Prime Minister of Canada.”
Mr. Trudeau welcomed Mr. Takach’s support andcongratulated him for making such a tremendous contribution to the official leadership campaign over the past three months:
“I want to thank George Takach for his support and his commitment to Canada. He has brought forward new ideas in this campaign and through exciting initiatives such as 'Geeks for George', brought new people into the political process.
To all the supporters and volunteers who have worked alongside George over the past months, I want to thank and congratulate you for the hard work you have given your candidate. This is an exciting race and there is much work still to do, I hope that you will stay engaged, and that you'll consider joining my team in these crucial final weeks of the race.
Together we are building a new Liberal Party and a positive vision about our country's future.”
(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)
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