Businessman Bryan Brulotte won't seek Conservative leadership

Businessman Bryan Brulotte will not run in the Conservative leadership race and is advocating for former Conservative cabinet minister Peter MacKay to run instead, CBC News has learned.

Businessman and political organizer throws support to former cabinet minister Peter MacKay

Bryan Brulotte, a veteran political organizer and businessman with deep roots within the Conservative Party, has decided not to contest the party's leadership after announcing his interest last month. (Leading Seaman Anne-Marie Brisso/Canadian Forces Support Unit (Ottawa))

Businessman Bryan Brulotte will not run for the Conservative leadership and is calling on former Conservative cabinet minister Peter MacKay to run instead, CBC News has learned.

"Although my desire was to serve and continues to be a motivating factor, after careful consideration and review of the recently published regulations, I have decided to withdraw from the leadership race for the Conservative Party," Brulotte said in a press release shared with CBC News.

On Saturday, the Conservative Party released the rules for its June leadership vote, giving candidates just over two months to pull together $300,000 and secure 3,000 signatures to get their names on the ballot.

The first deadline — when candidates are required to have $25,000 and 1,000 signatures from 30 ridings in at least seven provinces and territories — is set for Feb. 27; the remaining financial obligations and signatures are due by March 25.

Brulotte, CEO and chair of the employment firm MaxSys Staffing and Consulting, announced his intention to seek the leadership on Dec. 16. Brulotte is also a former member of the military who served overseas in both Germany and on United Nations peacekeeping missions with the Royal 22nd Regiment.

In a press release dated Jan. 15, Brulotte said the decision to stand down was not one he made lightly.

"I believe in a united Canada and I still believe that vision can be achieved," the release said.

"As such, it is with a strong sense of purpose that I fully encourage and advocate for the upcoming leadership campaign of Peter MacKay. Without a doubt, Peter has consistently displayed all the necessary attributes to become prime minister of Canada." Brulotte said he has known MacKay since 1997.

MacKay, a former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and a cabinet minister in Stephen Harper's government, is said to be considering a run but has not yet announced a decision.

MP Marilyn Gladu became the first caucus member to enter the race when she announced her leadership bid last week. Fellow Ontario MPs Erin O'Toole and Pierre Poilievre are expected to announce bids soon.

Former Quebec premier Jean Charest and former interim leader Rona Ambrose are among those also believed to be considering their options.

Who's running - and who's not - for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. (CBC News)

with files from Murray Brewster and The Canadian Press