Canada defense procurement minister quits; cites personal reasons

Canada's Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada October 31, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian cabinet minister in charge of defense procurement quit on Thursday for personal reasons, leaving her successor to tackle a troubled-plagued effort to acquire new fighter jets.

Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote tearfully told a news conference she was leaving her post immediately, but gave no details. Foote, 65, who said in 2014 she was fighting breast cancer for the second time, had stepped down temporarily in April.

Her departure means Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will need to find a replacement. One obvious candidate would be legislator Seamus O’Regan, a close Trudeau friend who like Foote comes from the Atlantic province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Trudeau’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Foote had overseen the government’s protracted bid to replace its veteran fleet of fighter jets, which is currently in some disarray.

Last year she unveiled plans to buy 18 Boeing Corp Super Hornets as a stop-gap measure while Ottawa prepares an open competition for new jets. The government suspended talks with Boeing in May over a challenge the U.S. firm launched against Canadian plane maker Bombardier Inc.

The government had opted for the Boeing jets despite being a member of a consortium that helped fund development of Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 stealth fighter, which has been hit by repeated delays.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Dan Grebler