Federal cabinet shuffle to be small: source

Wed May 28, 2008 3:33pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren and Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper will shuffle his cabinet in coming weeks but will limit the moves to what is necessary to replace the foreign minister, a source close to Harper said on Wednesday.

The cabinet shuffle was prompted by Maxime Bernier's sudden resignation on Monday, for having left classified documents in the apartment of a former girlfriend with past ties to organized crime.

"The prime minister has no plans for a large cabinet shuffle," the source said, adding that until Bernier's departure there were no plans at all to rejig the cabinet this spring.

Harper, currently on a brief tour of Europe, will probably try to conduct the shuffle before the July 7-9 summit of the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations in Japan, the source said.

Rumors have circulated for months about Finance Minister Jim Flaherty swapping portfolios with Industry Minister Jim Prentice, but this does not appear to be likely.

"I don't think there's any idea of them switching," said the source, who declined to be identified.

Those close to Flaherty, in charge at Finance since the minority Conservative government took power in February 2006, did not see any reason to believe he would move, said another well-connected insider.

"I don't expect (his job) to change," he told Reuters. "The same rumors came up last August and I expect they'll amount to the same substance this time."   Continued...

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper pauses after announcing that he has accepted the resignation of Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier on Parliament Hill in Ottawa May 26, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>