Canada foreign minister to quit amid talk of tension with PM

Mon Feb 2, 2015 11:40pm EST
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird is unexpectedly set to resign from the federal cabinet this week amid what sources said had been tensions with the prime minister's office.

Baird's imminent departure - confirmed by a source late on Monday - will deprive the right-leaning Conservatives of a senior cabinet figure and renowned campaigner in the run-up to an election set for October this year.

Polls show Prime Minister Stephen Harper would most likely lose his majority in Parliament and could even be thrown out of power.

A source close to Baird said the minister, 45, wanted to start a new career after 20 years in public service.

"This was simply the right time to move on," the source told Reuters.

Baird's office said the minister would make an announcement at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

Speaking separately, two well-placed political sources said Baird's relationship with Harper's office had deteriorated in recent months, in particular over policy towards Russia.

Baird, the sources said, had pushed for Ottawa to slap sanctions on allies of President Vladimir Putin who had business ties with Canada. The minister was overruled by Harper's office.   Continued...

Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa November 24, 2014. REUTERS/Chris Wattie