04/26/2017 14:39 EDT | Updated 04/26/2017 14:41 EDT

As front-runner quits, remaining Conservative candidates battle it out

OTTAWA — The final Conservative leadership debate is up and running with candidates discussing why they want the job hours after the presumed front-runner has now walked away.

Tonight's event in Toronto was supposed to be a big political spectacle in its own right, with the May 27 climax looming on the calendar.

But then Kevin O'Leary went and quit the race just hours before and opted to back Maxime Bernier.

As a result, the Quebec MP who likes to call himself "Mad Max" had a big target on his back from his remaining rivals.

Early on, Bernier faced off against rival Andrew Scheer, whose status in the race has bumped up a few notches after O'Leary's departure.

Scheer suggested the party was at risk of being divided by someone imposing their personal ideology, but Bernier fired back that his views aren't just his but all of Canada's.