Canadian finance minister set to keep job during shuffle: sources

Canada's Finance Minister Bill Morneau listens to a question during a news conference following a meeting with his provincial and territorial counterparts in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 26, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau is set to stay in his post when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shuffles his cabinet, which could be as early as this week, political sources said on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland will also not be moving, said the sources, who declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the situation.

The next election is scheduled for October 2019 and Trudeau wants to freshen up his cabinet amid an increasingly strong challenge from the official opposition Conservatives, said the sources. Trudeau’s office declined to comment.

A Nanos Research poll released on Tuesday put the Liberals at 37 percent and the Conservatives at 35 percent, indicating that if an election were held now Trudeau would end up with a weakened minority government.

Morneau’s officials have started preliminary work on the 2019 budget, the last before the Liberals head into the election. Freeland is leading Canada’s team at talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Canadian prime ministers traditionally shuffle their cabinets a year ahead of an election, in part to ease out ministers who intend to quit politics.

On paper, potential candidates for retirement include Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay, 71, and Transport Minister Marc Garneau, 69. Spokespeople for both ministers said they planned to run for election again.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Steve Orlofsky