Harper rules out major cabinet reshuffle

Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa June 18, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Thursday ruled out a major cabinet reshuffle, saying he planned only to find a permanent replacement for the former foreign minister, who quit in a security scandal.

“I believe that most of our ministers are just beginning to hit their stride in their portfolios. I don’t believe this is the time for major changes to cabinet,” Harper told reporters in Huntsville, Ontario.

“I see no need for a comprehensive overhaul now, although I would concede there is still a need to deal with the hole created by the departure of the former minister of foreign affairs and that will be dealt with in due course.”

Maxime Bernier quit as foreign minister last month after admitting he had left secret documents at the home of a former girlfriend who had ties to organized crime.

Top Harper aides subsequently told Reuters that any reshuffle would be minor.

Bernier’s position has been temporarily filled by Trade Minister David Emerson.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Frank McGurty