VATICAN CITY - Italian media reports say Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who was considered a front-runner for the papacy, nearly became pope.

According to Italian news outlet Il Solo 24 Ore, Ouellet was tied with Italian Cardinal Angelo Scola in early voting at the Sistine Chapel, with Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in third place.

The report says Scola was later unable to gain further support after many cardinals decided against choosing a Vatican insider to lead the Roman Catholic Church.

Ouellet then reportedly convinced his fellow cardinals to throw their support behind Bergoglio, who eventually became Pope Francis on Wednesday.

The report is fuelling speculation that Ouellet has now positioned himself for an influential new position at the Vatican.

The 68-year-old native of La Motte., Que., currently heads the Vatican's bishop's office.