Canada PM to announce new team of ministers after scandal

OTTAWA Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:01am IST

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper looks down during a news conference at the Polyvalente Montignac, the school sheltering the people who were forced to leave their houses after the explosion, in Lac Megantic, July 7, 2013. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper looks down during a news conference at the Polyvalente Montignac, the school sheltering the people who were forced to leave their houses after the explosion, in Lac Megantic, July 7, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mathieu Belanger

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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will conduct a major cabinet shuffle on Monday to put a fresh face on a Conservative government struggling to overcome an expenses scandal, political sources said on Sunday.

The new cabinet will be announced at 11 a.m.(1500 GMT) on Monday, a Conservative Party official said.

"There will be substantial changes to the government," the official told Reuters. He said the new cabinet would be a mix of younger ministers, including more women, and experienced figures. No fewer than 15 of the existing 37-member cabinet are aged 60 or older.

The official declined to comment on whether Finance Minister Jim Flaherty would keep his job. Flaherty, 63, who is taking medication for a rare skin ailment, says he wants to keep a job he has held since February 2006.

Political operators in Ottawa are betting that Flaherty will stay on as finance minister in the short term at least to give new Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz time to settle in. Poloz took over last month.

The right-of-center Conservatives - who do not have to face an election until October 2015 - have been on the defensive since May, when two members of the upper Senate chamber quit the party caucus after improperly claiming expenses.

The scandal undermined the popularity of the party, which came to power in early 2006 promising to boost accountability.

Recent polls showed the Conservatives trailing the centrist Liberals of Justin Trudeau, the telegenic son of former Liberal prime minister Pierre Trudeau.

Among the more likely candidates for promotion are Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, 45, who has worked hard since 2008 to attract more ethnic votes, and Heritage Minister James Moore, 37.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Christopher Wilson)

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