Moore’s Departure Thins Harper’s Bench Ahead of Canada Election

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Canadian Industry Minister James Moore’s surprise departure leaves Prime Minister Stephen Harper without five cabinet ministers on the Conservative Party ticket heading into a fall election.

One of the highest ranking officials from British Columbia, Moore was touted as a future leadership candidate before a statement Friday saying his son’s illness required him to leave federal politics.

Moore, 39, said he has “every confidence” Harper and the Conservatives will be re-elected but that “it is impossible for me to seek another term in office.”

His decision not to run follows similar announcements from Justice Minister Peter MacKay, Heritage Minister Shelly Glover and International Development Minister Christian Paradis. Harper also lost John Baird, who resigned from the Foreign Affairs post in February to join the private sector.

“It doesn’t help to lose these heavy hitters,” Lorne Bozinoff, a pollster with Forum Research, said by telephone Friday. Moore’s departure is even more difficult because British Columbia is a “battleground” in which several parties are competitive, he said.

First elected in 2000, Moore represents the district of Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam in suburban Vancouver. He has been a member of Harper’s cabinet since the Conservatives took power in 2006.

Three-Way Race

Recent opinion polls show Harper’s Conservatives in a tight three-way race with Thomas Mulcair’s official opposition New Democratic Party and Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. A federal election is scheduled for Oct. 19 and Moore’s departure came as the House of Commons broke for its summer recess. It’s not expected to sit again until after the vote.

Moore was a rare minister from western Canada who was comfortable speaking in both English and French, the country’s two official languages. As Heritage Minister, he helped oversee preparations for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

Since taking over Industry in 2013, Moore led the government’s efforts to increase competition among phone companies. He gave smaller wireless carriers preferential access to the airwaves needed to connect cell towers and rejected repeated attempts by Telus Corp., one of Canada’s three big carriers, to buy upstart Mobilicity. Last year Moore approved Burger King Worldwide Inc.’s purchase of Tim Hortons Inc. and oversaw an auction of telecommunications spectrum that yielded C$5.27 billion ($4.3 billion) for the government.

The Prime Minister’s Office thanked Moore for his 15 years of service and said he’ll continue in cabinet until the election. “We fully understand his need to spend more time with his family and wish the Minister, his wife Courtney and his son Spencer well,” Harper spokesman Stephen Lecce said in an e-mail.

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