'Fish or cut bait': Andrew Scheer calls on Kevin O'Leary to join race before Conservative all-French debate

Conservative leadership hopeful Andrew Scheer is accusing potential candidate Kevin O'Leary of trying to avoid an all-French debate in two weeks.

Conservative MP says reality show personality should declare candidacy before Quebec City debate Jan. 17

Conservative leadership hopeful Andrew Scheer released a statement saying possible candidate Kevin O'Leary should formalize his candidacy and participate in the all-French debate in Quebec City on Jan. 17. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Conservative leadership hopeful Andrew Scheer is accusing possible candidate Kevin O'Leary of trying to avoid an all-French debate in two weeks.

Scheer released a statement Tuesday urging the Montreal-born businessman to formalize his candidacy and participate in the Quebec City event Jan.17.

"If Kevin wants to run, it's time to fish or cut bait," Scheer said. "It is not acceptable to stall or delay in order to avoid the French-language debate."

He says it's obvious O'Leary wants to get into the race and that he has an obligation to all French-speaking Conservatives to take part in the debate.

Some Conservatives believe it is essential that Stephen Harper's replacement has the ability to speak French.

O'Leary doesn't speak the language and has stated he doesn't need to in order to communicate with Quebecers.

Montreal-born businessman and reality TV star Kevin O'Leary is considering a run for the Conservative party leadership. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The celebrity businessman and reality TV-show host announced before Christmas he has a group of advisers exploring a possible leadership run and is seeking public input through a website.

The exploratory committee is due to report back to O'Leary early this year.

The deadline to register for the leadership race is Feb. 24, with the winner chosen May 27.

There are now 13 candidates in the running for the job with the withdrawal of Daniel Lindsay, a Manitoba radiologist with no political experience.

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