Bitter divisions inside Stephen Harper's cabinet over Toronto Mayor Rob Ford recently erupted on the floor of the House of Commons and triggered a profane battle between two of the prime minister's most powerful ministers.

Several cabinet and caucus sources said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was unable to hold back his fury after Employment Minister Jason Kenney became the first member of Harper's cabinet to call on Ford to resign on Nov. 19.

The finance minister, who is an old friend of the Ford family, got word of Kenney's public upbraiding of Ford and confronted his cabinet colleague once the two were seated in the Commons for the daily question period.

In a voice loud enough for several of their cabinet colleagues to hear, Flaherty told Kenney to "shut the f--k up" about Ford.

Kenney responded angrily in kind, and although the two men were separated by four other ministers, alarmed caucus colleagues, who requested anonymity, were concerned the bilious debate might escalate beyond their control.

"I thought they might come to blows," said one MP who was not authorized to speak publicly about the incident.

Another MP said there was shock at the sight of two senior ministers battling in such a public way.

"It made other caucus members feel awkward," the MP said. "Jim was very emotional and he is very protective of Ford."

Kenney speaks on The House

In an interview on CBC Radio’s The House, Kenney did not deny the confrontation took place. 

"Not everyone agrees with each other on everything all the time," Kenney said. "There is always going to be some disagreements from time to time."

Kenney insisted there are not "significant divisions" in the caucus, just the "occasional disagreements on a particular issue that you would expect." He also stressed that he and Jim Flaherty do "get along."

Flaherty did not deny the incident but refused to make any public comment on the encounter.

Just weeks before the incident in the House of Commons, Flaherty became visibly emotional at a news conference when he was asked about Ford's admitted use of crack cocaine.

"I am close with the family," said Flaherty, who appeared to be struggling to hold back tears. "[Ford] has to make his own decision about what he ought to do."

Flaherty served with the mayor's father in the Ontario legislature.

Kenney's comments about Ford also upset members of the Conservatives' Greater Toronto Caucus, which Flaherty chairs.

Sources tell CBC News that some Greater Toronto Area caucus members resented Kenney's comments because they flew in the face of strict instructions to avoid commenting on the Rob Ford scandal because of the Toronto mayor's enduring popularity in some key federal ridings.

"The MPs in the GTA had worked hard to maintain their cool on the subject," said one caucus source, "and along comes Kenney and undermines them."

It has been a difficult fall for the governing Conservatives. The spiralling Senate scandal that saw the Conservatives expel three of their own senators from the upper house as well as Ford's troubles have strained relationships in the caucus.

There have been other examples of escalating tension between caucus members spilling onto the floor of the House.

This past week, Conservative MP Kyle Seeback apologized for calling fellow Conservative Brad Butt a "bitch" during a loud exchange on the Commons floor. 

"It was more like a locker room than the House of Parliament," one witness said privately.

The next day, Seeback rose in his seat to deal with the situation.

“Mr. Speaker, yesterday I used some very unparliamentary language in the chamber and for that I unreservedly apologize," Seeback said.

It is unclear what caused that flare-up between the two MPs.

Listen to host Evan Solomon's full interview with Kenney on The House, on CBC Radio One and SiriusXM Ch. 169, Saturday at 9 a.m.

Also on HuffPost:

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  • This image from video released by NBC News/TODAY shows host Matt Lauer, right, speaking with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, left, as the mayor's brother, City Councilor Doug Ford, looks on during an interview in Toronto for the "Today" show. Mayor Ford said Toronto's City Council had no business stripping him of most of his powers over his admitted crack cocaine use and heaving drinking, implying in a television interview aired Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, that many councilors are no different from him.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is shown in a video frame grab as he knocks down Councillor Pam McConnell as he ran toward hecklers in the audience at city Hall on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013.

  • Toronto Rob Ford, right, gestures to Councillor Paul Ainslee in the council chamber as councillors look to pass motions to limit his powers in Toronto on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013. Blasting what he called a "coup d'etat," Ford said voters should be able to pass judgment on him, not his fellow councillors.

  • A giant-sized cutout of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford appears in the crowd as the Toronto Argonauts play against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats during first half CFL eastern conference final football action in Toronto on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford sits in the council chamber as councilors pass motions to limit his powers in Toronto on Friday November 15, 2013.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford stands with his wife Renata at a news conference on Thursday November 14, 2013.

  • In this Nov. 14, 2013 file photo, Mayor Rob Ford reacts at city council members regarding new allegations against him in Toronto.

  • Hundreds of people protest against Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at city hall in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013.

  • A bobblehead doll in the likeness of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is displayed at city hall Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, in Toronto. Hundreds of people lined up to be the first to own the bobblehead doll. The defiant mayor declared on Monday, Nov. 11, that he intends to stay in office despite pressure to step aside after admitting he smoked crack cocaine.

  • A spectator holds a sign which reads, "ROB FORD. LABATT NOT CRACK" in the third period of an NHL hockey game between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs in Boston on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford makes a statement to the media outside his office at Toronto's city hall after the release of a video on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. The new video surfaced showing Ford in a rage, using threatening words including "kill" and "murder." Ford said he was “extremely, extremely inebriated" in the video, which appeared Thursday on the Toronto Star’s website. The context of the video is unknown and it's unclear who the target of Ford's wrath is.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is seen in a video that surfaced Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. The video - posted by the Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun on their websites - shows Ford using threatening words, including “kill” and “murder.”

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford addresses the media at City Hall in Toronto, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Ford acknowledged for the first time that he smoked crack "probably a year ago," when he was in a "drunken stupor," but he refused to resign despite immense pressure to step aside as leader of Canada’s largest city.

  • Toronto Police Service released documents Thursday morning, Oct. 31, 2013 that show police surveillance photos of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (left) and Alexander Lisi, Ford's friend and occasional driver.

  • City of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, right, pushes members of the media off his property as he leaves his home in Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013.

  • In this Oct. 31, 2013 file photo, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford tells to the media to get off his property as he leaves his home in Toronto. The embattled mayor on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013 said he smoked crack "probably a year ago" during a "drunken stupor."

  • Mayor Rob Ford walks past Halloween decorations on his way to talk to media at City Hall in Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. Ford says he has no reason to step down despite police confirmation that they have seized a video that appears to show him smoking a crack pipe.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford addresses media outside his office in Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. Ford says he has no reason to step down despite police confirmation that they have seized a video that appears to show him smoking a crack pipe.

  • City of Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair speaks to the media in Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, regarding a recovered video file involving City of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

  • In this Oct. 2, 2013 file photo, Alexander Lisi, friend and occasional driver of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, left, leaves Old City Hall court in Toronto after being granted bail on drug charges. Lisi, 35, has been charged with trafficking and possession of marijuana, Toronto police say. Rob Ford remains in office, resisting all attempts to force him out over his admitted crack use, drinking problem and appearance in a video that caught him threatening to "kill" someone. His powers were curtailed by the City Council on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at a press conference at City Hall in response to possible provincial funding cuts to the city.

  • A police officer from Toronto Police Integrated Gun and Gang Task Force picks up an assault rifle as police display guns seized during a series of raids for operation "Project Traveller" at a news conference in Toronto on Friday, June 14, 2013. Police say a violent gang which was terrorizing a northwest Toronto neighborhood has been dismantled following a series of raids targeting suspected drug and gun traffickers. One of the raids targeted an apartment complex where an alleged video appearing to show Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine was reported to be located. Police haven't said if Ford was in any way part of their year-long investigation.

  • A protestor joins the crowd at Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto city hall calling for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to step down on Saturday, June 1, 2013.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford answers questions about the three new staffers he has hired at a news conference at city hall in Toronto on Friday, May 31, 2013.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford whistles as he walks to a meeting at city hall in Toronto on Thursday, May 30, 2013. More staffers are leaving the Toronto mayor's office as controversy swirls about a video that purportedly shows Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford attends an Executive Committee meeting at city hall in Toronto on Tuesday, May 28, 2013. This is Ford's first meeting with his executive committee since allegations of Ford's videotaped drug use surfaced earlier this month. Ford has denied the drug-use allegations, making a statement late last week after six members of his executive committee urged him to publicly address the allegations following a week of mostly silence on the issue. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford emerges from his office holding slices of a birthday cake to offer to members of the media at city hall in Toronto on Tuesday May 28, 2013. The mayor is celebrating his 44th birthday. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

  • Mark Towhey, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's Chief of Staff, leaves city hall in Toronto, Thursday, May 23, 2013, after he was fired by Ford, who is caught up in a scandal over a video purportedly showing him smoking crack cocaine.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford sits during a City council meeting at Toronto City Hall on Tuesday May 21, 2013. Ford ignored a crush of reporters waiting outside his city hall office this morning in the hopes he would address allegations that he was recorded on video appearing to smoke crack cocaine. (AP Photo/THE CANADIAN PRESS,Nathan Denette)

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford arrives at City Hall in Toronto amid allegations of crack cocaine use on Friday May 17, 2013, in Toronto. Published reports say a video appears to show Ford smoking crack cocaine. Ford called the allegations ridiculous. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leaves his home on Friday, May 17, 2013, after published reports said a video appears to show Ford smoking crack cocaine. A report published Thursday night said the video is being shopped around by a group of men allegedly involved in the drug trade. The Toronto Star said, however, it had no way to verify the video. Ford called the allegations ridiculous. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

  • As city council debates whether or not the University of Toronto back campus field should have a heritage designation and be prevented from being converted to an artificial turf field for the Pan Am games, Rob Ford, Earl Provost and Doug Ford have an animated discussion on top of the Podium roof at City Hall. Ford is currently embroiled in a scandal after allegations surfaced that he was recorded on a cellphone video at this house smoking crack cocaine. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • As city council debates whether or not the University of Toronto back campus field should have a heritage designation and be prevented from being converted to an artificial turf field for the Pan Am games, Rob Ford, Earl Provost and Doug Ford have an animated discussion on top of the Podium roof at City Hall. Ford is currently embroiled in a scandal after allegations surfaced that he was recorded on a cellphone video at this house smoking crack cocaine. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Elena Johnson, 51, a resident at 15 Windsor Road, where Mayor Rob Ford was photographed with murder victim Anthony Smith and another shooting victim. The house is notorious for drug problems, according to people living in the area. Ford is currently embroiled in a scandal after allegations surfaced that he was recorded on a cellphone video at this house smoking crack cocaine. (Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Reporters keep a watchful eye on the house which is all quiet.The house at 15 Windsor Road in Etobicoke where Mayor Rob Ford was allegedly photographed in relation to crack use is seen the morning after the Star published the address. June 6, 2013. (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford tours the Dufferin Street bridge just south of Springhurst Avenue. The Mayor addressed the media about the closing of the bridge on June 12 due to safety concerns. It will be closed to traffic to allow for repairs. The bridge will still be open to pedestrians and cyclist. Ford is currently embroiled in a scandal after allegations surfaced that he was recorded on a cellphone video smoking crack cocaine and making offensive remarks (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • A man identified by friends and neighbours as Fabio Basso, a resident of 15 Windsor Road, in Etobicoke, the address where a photo showing Mayor Rob Ford with two shooting victims was taken. Ford is currently embroiled in a scandal after allegations surfaced that he was recorded on a cellphone video in front of this house smoking crack cocaine and making offensive remarks. (Toronto Star Archives/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • A woman identified by friends and neighbours as Elena Basso, a resident of 15 Windsor Road, in Etobicoke, the address where a photo showing Mayor Rob Ford with two shooting victims was taken. Ford is currently embroiled in a scandal after allegations surfaced that he was recorded on a cellphone video in front of this house smoking crack cocaine and making offensive remarks. (Toronto Star Archives/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford attends a Tim Horton's Camp Day fund raising event in Scarborough. Ford is currently embroiled in a scandal after allegations surfaced that he was recorded on a cellphone video smoking crack cocaine and making offensive remarks (Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Exterior view of 15 Windsor Rd., the address where a photo showing Mayor Rob Ford with two shooting victims was taken. Ford is currently embroiled in a scandal after allegations surfaced that he was recorded on a cellphone video in front of this house smoking crack cocaine and making offensive remarks. (Toronto Star Archives/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford addresses the media on some positive developments in the TCHC. The Mayor would not answers questions on the crack cocaine video scandal at City Hall. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford addresses the media on some positive developments in the TCHC. The Mayor would not answers questions on the crack cocaine video scandal at City Hall. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Mayor Rob Ford leaves for the day shortly after reading a statement to the media concerning two more staffers that have left his office at City Hall. Brian Johnston, Ford's advisor on council relations, and executive assistant Kia Nejatian become the latest casualties of the Mayor Rob Ford crack video scandal at Toronto City Hall. Ford is currently facing allegations that he was recorded on a cellphone video smoking crack cocaine and making offensive remarks. Sources say Ford told senior aides not to worry about the video because he knew where it was. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford arrives at City Hall parking lot. Ford is currently facing allegations that he was recorded on a cellphone video smoking crack cocaine and making offensive remarks. Sources say Ford told senior aides not to worry about the video because he knew where it was. (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Mayor Rob Ford during the executive committe meeting at City Hall in Toronto on May 28, 2013 (Vince Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Rob Ford scrum re staff defections. (Keith Beaty/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

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    Doug Ford leaves CFRB after his weekly radio show with brother Mayor Rob Ford. Mayor Rob Ford recently addressed a crack cocaine video scandal and denied using the drug. (Bernard Weil/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Mayor Rob Ford leaves his home for the storm at City Hall amid a crack cocaine scandal that he continues to refuse to address. Ford's hand-picked executive committee may release an extraordinary statement urging Ford to finally address eight-day-old media reports on a video that appears to show him smoking crack. (Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Rob Ford waits for the end in his Cadillac SUV across street from the funeral of the renowned journalist Peter Worthington, the founding editor of the Toronto Sun. (Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Mayor Rob Ford in the council chamber for a special council meeting on the Casino debate in Toronto. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford watches as the motion he put forward and others he supported are voted down during the casino debate at Toronto City Hall, he faces allegations that there is a video which he reportedly appears to be smoking crack cocaine. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)