Kevin O’Leary is crediting MPP Patrick Brown with generating excitement about the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership race, although he’s also “glad” that the former party leader has dropped out of the running for his old job.

“I’m very happy he’s gone,” O’Leary, chairman of the O’Leary Financial Group and a former federal Conservative leadership candidate, told CTV News Channel. “I don’t like the way he went – that didn’t seem fair to me – but I never agreed with his policies,” O’Leary said. He pointed to Brown’s pro-carbon tax stance as one policy he finds particularly unfavourable.

Brown withdrew his bid for Ontario PC leadership on Monday, saying that he wants to “focus on policy,” and focus on clearing his name.

Brown initially stepped down as party leader in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations levelled against him by two women, as reported by CTV News on Jan. 24. The 39-year-old has been facing other allegations including financial mismanagement and questions over inflated party numbers. He is currently sitting as an independent MPP for Simcoe North, and has vigorously denied these allegations.

O’Leary lamented the circumstances around Brown’s departure, but also credited Brown with generating more excitement than he saw during his own bid for federal Conservative leadership.

“People are watching because he’s brought that in,” O’Leary said. “I’m just thrilled that we’ve got an engaging contest going on in Ontario.”

O’Leary praised the brief format of the PC leadership race, saying that it allows voters to see what each candidate is like under pressure.

“You start to understand how they’re going to act as leaders,” he said.

With only four candidates in the running now, O’Leary said there was plenty of room for solid policy discussion at Wednesday night’s leadership debate. He hailed Doug Ford and Christine Elliott for their strong performances at the debate, adding that Carolyn Mulroney was a clear No. 3, followed by Tanya Grace Allen.

“I didn’t feel that Mulroney was on her best last night,” he said. “She is an eloquent speaker, but I didn’t see it last night.”

The businessman said he sees the PC Party “waking up” in Ontario, and is predicting whoever wins will have a strong shot at unseating Kathleen Wynne.