Jean Charest to launch Conservative leadership bid Thursday, Radio-Canada sources say

Jean Charest, the former Premier of Quebec, will be a candidate to succeed Erin O'Toole as the head of the Conservative Party of Canada, and will make the official announcement on Thursday, two sources confirmed to Radio-Canada.

Former Quebec premier will join Pierre Poilievre in the race to become next Conservative leader

Jean Charest, the former premier of Quebec and leader of the federal Progressive Conservatives, is expected to officially join the Conservative leadership race on Thursday. (Ivanhoe Demers/Radio-Canada)

Jean Charest, the former premier of Quebec, is running to succeed Erin O'Toole as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and will make his official announcement on Thursday, two sources have told Radio-Canada.

On Monday, Charest won the endorsement of columnist Tasha Kheiriddin, who now says she will not be running against the former federal Progressive Conservative leader in the upcoming contest.

Kheiriddin told CBC News Network's Power & Politics Monday evening that she decided she shouldn't be fighting with Charest because they share a vision for the country.

"My goals are really to rebuild a big-tent party, to see it become a party that's the alternative to government, that can win the next election, that can win in the places we're not winning, like the 905, like Quebec and still also of course keep our base in mostly the West," she said. 

Kheiriddin said Charest is a very likable person able to win over party members across the country and that he's coming into the race with the "noblest of intentions."

"He doesn't need to do this at this point in his career. He's doing this because he cares about Canada. I really respect that," Kheiriddin told host Vassy Kapelos. "So I feel really happy to be joining his team and supporting him."

While it had not been confirmed Monday evening that Charest was going to run, Kheiriddin told CBC that she spoke to the former Quebec premier late Sunday night about her decision and "he was very happy about this."

She said that when Charest met with members of the Conservative caucus in Ottawa last week, he was received favourably and has managed to secure a lot of support within the party. 

Asked if she would be playing a formal role in Charest's campaign, Kheiriddin would not comment, adding she did not want to "scoop anything" the campaign might announce.

Pierre Poilievre first out of the gate

Charest is not yet an official candidate in the race to become leader of the Conservatives. Kheiriddin said she "doesn't think that his candidacy is a big secret."

But the official launch of Charest's candidacy seems imminent.

After meeting with MPs and senators in Ottawa last week, Charest has strategic meetings scheduled for this week.

Pierre Poilievre, the Conservative MP for Carleton, was the first candidate to formally announce a run. Conservative MP Leslyn Lewis announce Tuesday that she's taking her second run at the leadership.

Prospective candidates have until June 3 to enter the race. The party will declare its new leader on September 10.

An official Charest website appeared on Feb. 2. The owner of the site, still under construction, remains anonymous.

With files from Nick Boisvert and Peter Zimonjic