Canadian prime minister brings in new-look team after scandal

Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:57pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper brought new, younger faces into his cabinet on Monday after an expenses scandal dented his Conservative government's popularity, but he kept senior players such as Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in place.

"He's the best minister in the G7. We've got to keep that going. The economy remains a priority," said Harper spokeswoman Julie Vaux of the decision to keep Flaherty, 63, in a job that gives him a crucial role in managing the economy.

Flaherty, who is taking medication for a rare skin ailment, had made it clear he wanted to stay as finance minister until the federal budget is balanced, forecast for 2015.

"He's shown that he's capable of doing the job. He tells us he's healthy and doing fine," Vaux said.

The Conservatives have long considered their handling of the economy as a strength. Canada emerged faster from the 2008 recession than most other leading industrialized nations.

Harper said in a statement that he would "continue to focus on creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity in all regions of the country".

He named James Moore, a rising star in the government, as industry minister with responsibility for telecommunications and for reviews, which are often politically charged, of major foreign takeovers of Canadian companies.

Moore, who was heritage minister for almost five years, will be the key point person responding to any bid for ailing Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry Ltd, which reported disappointing sales and a wider than expected loss in its most recent quarter.   Continued...

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (front row, C) gestures while posing with his cabinet ministers and Canadian Governor General David Johnston during a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa July 15, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie