Canada Conservatives lose another top minister ahead of election

Fri Jun 19, 2015 3:23pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Industry Minister James Moore announced on Friday that he would leave politics, the third surprise departure from Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet as the ruling Conservatives head for an October election trailing in the opinion polls.

Citing personal reasons, including "some difficult news" about the health of his disabled son, Moore said he would not run for re-election, but believes Harper and his nine-year-old right-leaning government would prevail.

"I have every confidence that Prime Minister Harper and our Conservative government will be re-elected, and I wish I could be part of the next Conservative government," Moore said in a Facebook posting.

"With health challenges in my family, I have concluded it is impossible for me to seek another term in office," Moore said.

Opinion polls show Harper's government has slipped behind the left-leaning New Democratic Party in a tight three-way race just four months before the national vote. The departure of Moore, 39, prompted tweets about rats leaving a sinking ship.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird resigned unexpectedly in February, while Justice Minister Peter MacKay, 49, announced his resignation in May.

"One departure unto itself is not an issue," pollster Nik Nanos said. "But when you see a number of departures of senior cabinet ministers ... it basically raises eyebrows in the electorate, because people wonder, Why are all these senior members of the Harper team not running?"

Liberal Member of Parliament Irwin Cotler said the string of departures will hurt the Conservatives.   Continued...

Canada's Industry Minister James Moore speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa February 4, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie (CANADA - Tags: POLITICS)