OTTAWA - Cabinet ministers who present a united front to the public sometimes have bitter feuds raging behind the scenes.

The latest gaffe involving Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt - a lost recorder said to hold a tape in which she criticizes Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq - is likely less about a divided cabinet and more about normal political behaviour, say pundits.

Cabinet skirmishes, however common and however rancorous, are rarely staged in public. When they do come out, it's often in a memoir long after the fact.

Erik Nielsen, a Tory cabinet minister fired by Brian Mulroney, vented his spleen against the prime minister and cabinet in his autobiography.

In some case, though, the infighting spills out and that can mean trouble.

John Diefenbaker's cabinet was shaken by infighting in the early 1960s. Diefenbaker himself was suspicious of several ministers and the mutual mistrust and bitterness eventually split the cabinet and toppled the government.