OTTAWA - Long-shot contender David Bertschi has been deserted by his campaign team as the Liberal leadership race heads down the home stretch.
The Ottawa lawyer insists he's still a candidate and will remain so until the votes are counted on April 14.
But his campaign manager, Kevin Chalmers, has left and is now working on Vancouver MP Joyce Murray's leadership campaign.
Chalmers said Bertschi's financial agent has also quit and confirmed that money woes are plaguing the campaign.
"I certainly left under very good terms with David and I wish him the best," Chalmers said in an interview Friday.
"It is my belief that, while he will make whatever decision that he feels is best for himself and his campaign, I don't believe that spending the money that I would cost in using my talents would be worthwhile if the conclusion he comes to is the one that I suspect he will."
There have been rumours for weeks that Bertschi exceeded the $75,000 loan limit set by the party almost immediately upon launching his campaign last November.
"As with all and any campaigns, as you well know, there are certain caps and limits and whatnot and you have to go out and fundraise and you have to maintain a campaign that works within those limits," Chalmers said.
"And at some point, I think one has to question whether, given all the rules that one has to abide by ... it comes to a point where you just simply say, 'Look, there's no more I can do.'"
Questions were raised about the financing of Bertschi's leadership bid after he filed his first financial report with Elections Canada in early January.
In that report, Bertschi indicated that he'd personally loaned his campaign $75,000 and had also donated $10,000 — well above the legal maximum of $2,400 that a candidate can donate to his or her own campaign.
His wife also donated $2,500 — $1,300 more than the legal maximum for an individual.
Bertschi said Friday that those donations were really loans — suggesting he exceeded the party's $75,000 loan limit from the outset.
The party has also set a limit of $25,000 on the unpaid expenses a candidate can accumulate.
Exceeding either limit could result in sanctions from the party, including being kicked out of the race. Insiders expect Bertschi to voluntarily withdraw before that happens.
However, Bertschi insisted the "over-contributions" will be repaid by March 23, when candidates must file updated financial reports with Elections Canada.
"It's just an over-contribution, which is no big deal," he said in an interview. "So there's no problem there at all."
As for his financial agent quitting, Bertschi said she was a volunteer who became overwhelmed by the work. The job has now been handed over to someone with more accounting experience, he added.
Leo Bourdon, who had been on a "brief sabbatical" as Bertschi's deputy campaign manager, has taken over from Chalmers as campaign manager.
"We're actually stronger and better, in my humble opinion," Bertschi said.
"I'm looking forward to finishing this race strong ... It's a challenge but I'm up for it."
There are eight candidates, including Bertschi, left in the race. A ninth, Toronto lawyer George Takach, bowed out last month and threw his support to front-runner Justin Trudeau.
Also on HuffPost:
Surprising Justin Trudeau Facts
With talk of Trudeau making a bid for the Liberal leadership reaching a fever pitch (again), HuffPost takes a look at some surprising facts about Canada's perpetual PM-in-waiting. (CP)
11. Politics On Mother's Side Too
Trudeau's maternal grandfather <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Sinclair_(politician)" target="_hplink">James Sinclair</a> was a Liberal MP and cabinet minister in Louis St.-Laurent's government in the 1950s. (House of Commons) <em><strong>CORRECTION</strong>: An earlier version of this slide incorrectly said Sinclair was a Progressive Conservative MP.</em>
10. Born In Office
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Trudeau" target="_hplink">Trudeau was only the second child ever to be born while a parent was prime minister</a>. The first was John A. Macdonald's youngest daughter Margaret Mary Macdonald. Trudeau's younger brothers, Alexandre (Sacha) and Michel were the third and fourth. (CP)
9. Educated Enough?
Trudeau has a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill and a Bachelor of Education from UBC. He also studied engineering at the Université de Montréal and environmental geography at McGill, but never finished degrees in those fields.
8. Enemies To Friends
While fathers Brian Mulroney and Pierre Trudeau were rivals, sons Justin and Ben are friends. Mulroney attended Trudeau's wedding to Sophie Grégoire. Grégoire has worked as Quebec correspondent for CTV's eTalk, which is hosted by Mulroney. (CP)
7. Let Them Eat Anything But Cake
Trudeau didn't have cake at his wedding, with <a href="http://www.macleans.ca/canada/national/article.jsp?content=20050606_106678_106678" target="_hplink">Sophie arguing that people never eat it anyway</a>. (Shutterstock)
6. Born On Christmas
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Trudeau" target="_hplink">Trudeau entered the world on December 25, 1971</a>.
5. Two Tattoos In One
Trudeau has a large tattoo on his left shoulder. <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/justinpjtrudeau/statuses/179973685136998400" target="_hplink">The planet Earth inside a Haida raven</a>. Trudeau got the globe tattoo when he was 23 and the raven when he turned 40. (Media Ball)
4. Keeping It In The Family
Trudeau and his wife Sophie have two children, Xavier James (4) and Ella-Grace Margaret (3). Both are partially named after family.<a href="http://www.chatelaine.com/en/article/4970--the-littlest-trudeau" target="_hplink"> Xavier James is named after Trudeau's maternal grandfather James Sinclair</a> (the politician) and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophie_Gr%C3%A9goire" target="_hplink">Ella-Grace Margaret is named after Trudeau's mother Margaret and Grace Elliot, Trudeau's paternal grandmother</a>. Xavier also happens to share a birthday with Pierre Elliott Trudeau. (CP)
3. Politician And Actor
<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0846011/" target="_hplink">Trudeau played Talbot Mercer Papineau</a> in the 2007 CBC miniseries "The Great War."
2. .. And Video Game Star
<a href="http://arts.nationalpost.com/2011/09/06/in-deus-ex-justin-trudeau-is-the-pm-and-canada-has-a-problem-with-illegal-immigrants-from-the-u-s/" target="_hplink">Trudeau is prime minister in the dystopian future portrayed in the video game Deus Ex: Human Revolution</a>. (CP)
1. Childhood Sweathearts
Sophie used to visit the Trudeau family home when she was a child. She was a classmate and friend of Trudeau's youngest brother Michel, who died tragically in a B.C. avalanche in 1998. Justin and Sophie made contact again at a fundraiser in 2003 and soon after began dating. <a href="http://www.macleans.ca/canada/national/article.jsp?content=20050606_106678_106678" target="_hplink">Trudeau was so smitten</a> that he declared they would spend the rest of their lives together on the very first date. (CP)