Pettigrew quitting politics: report

PM Paul Martin could lose key Quebec minister if Pierre Pettigrew quits politics to lead Organization of American States.

Prime Minister Paul Martin could lose one of his top cabinet ministers just weeks before a federal election campaign, according to a report.

Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew is leaving politics to lead the Organization of American States, Montreal's Le Devoir newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The trilingual Pettigrew, who speaks English, French and Spanish, could quit his post within weeks, said the report.

Headquartered in Washington, the OAS deals with development, rights and trade issues among 35 countries in the Americas.

It's set to choose its new leader on May 2, and Le Devoir says Pettigrew has enough support to win the job.

The prime minister has lobbied Pettigrew not to take the job, saying people might think the foreign affairs minister is leaving because he is unhappy with the federal Liberals, according to other reports.

Pettigrew, a key Quebec minister for Martin, narrowly defeated the Bloc Québécois candidate in his east end Montreal riding during last June's federal election.

A spokesperson for Pettigrew's department said Canada officially supports Mexican candidate Luis Ernesto Derbez for OAS secretary general.