OTTAWA—British Columbia MP Peter Julian pulled the plug Thursday on his bid to lead the federal New Democrats, saying he’d failed to raise the kind of money necessary to stay in the marathon race to succeed Tom Mulcair.
Julian — the first to throw his hat in the ring — acknowledged a long line of politicians who have forked over their own funds through the years to keep campaigns afloat, only to suffer personal consequences.
“I’ve seen the graveyard of politicians who have invested a lot of their personal money because they thought they could change the dynamic financially, and many of those people … are still paying off huge debts,” he told a news conference in Ottawa.
“You evaluate and you say, ‘Well, if we move forward, that could mean a lot of personal debt.”’
Julian said he is not ready to impose a financial burden on his family, and that dropping out — while difficult — is easier than going into the red.
“I accept the verdict of the membership,” he said with a wry smile. “That’s why I’m making the decision I’m making today.”
Julian, a veteran MP who represents the British Columbia riding of New Westminster—Burnaby, was one of five candidates so far to join the leadership race, which isn’t scheduled to reach a crescendo until October.
Other contenders include MPs Niki Ashton, Charlie Angus and Guy Caron, as well as Ontario legislator Jagmeet Singh.
Angus and Caron used social media Thursday to thank Julian for his contributions to the race, while Singh and Ashton both issued statements saying they are saddened to see him go.
Julian said he’s pleased his policy positions had an influence on the course of the campaign, particularly on the issue of pipelines.
“We were the only ones raising opposition to pipelines like Kinder Morgan and Energy East, and all the other candidates have come in our direction,” he said.
“We’ve had an impact and I think we can be proud of the work that was accomplished.”
Earlier Thursday, Ashton announced a tax plan designed to tackle inequality that includes a pledge to raise income taxes on the wealthiest Canadians and a promise to expand disability and seniors’ benefits.
The next NDP leadership debate is scheduled to take place on Tuesday in Saskatoon, followed by events in Victoria and Montreal in August and one in Vancouver in September.
Online voting in the leadership race will begin on Sept. 18, with results to be announced in October after each round of balloting.