Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier announces his candidacy for the B.C. Liberal leadership in Vancouver, Sept. 25, 2017. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)

Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier announces his candidacy for the B.C. Liberal leadership in Vancouver, Sept. 25, 2017. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)

Mike Bernier drops out of B.C. Liberal leadership race

The former cabinet minister made the announcement in Vancouver Saturday morning

Former education minister Mike Bernier is dropping out of the race to become the next leader of the B.C. Liberals.

Bernier made the announcement in Vancouver this morning, saying he polled well in the province’s north and interior, but struggled to break through in the Lower Mainland.

He says he made the decision “for the benefit of the party.”

The MLA for Peace River South has thrown his support behind Mike de Jong, who served as finance minister under former premier Christy Clark.

Bernier’s announcement comes the day before candidates are set to face off in the first debate of the debate of the campaign.

Seven candidates are now left in the race, including de Jong, Todd Stone, Andrew Wilkinson, Sam Sullivan, Michael Lee, Dianne Watts and Lucy Sager.