After his remarks on Edward Snowden, it's hard to take John Baird seriously as a foreign minister
The Harper government often comes under fire for its domestic policies, but where it really demonstrates its incompetence is in the international arena.
That was apparent once again when Canadian Press published an interview today with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.
Among the gems that came out of Baird's mouth:
* Whistle blower Edward Snowden should turn himself over to the U.S. government and face the consequences of his actions.
* Snowden has "done significant damage to national security of the free world".
* "The United States has a free and fair justice system."
* It was "silly" of Amnesty International to call for the arrest of former U.S. president George W. Bush and former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney over allegations they aided and abetted torture.
Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia. He has offered convincing evidence that Canada has become a valuable source of espionage for the U.S. government.
Moreover, Snowden has provided reasonable grounds for believing that Canada also spied on the Brazilian mines ministry.
Meanwhile, U.S. security officials have been vacuuming up information through metadata surveillance that's without precedent. We know this thanks to Snowden's revelations. Even foreign leaders' phones have been hacked.
Baird still purports that Snowden would receive a fair trial in the United States. Keep in mind that the U.S. executed more prisoners between 2007 and 2012 than all other nations except for such democratic bastions as the People's Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq.
In Baird's eyes, those statistics probably can't be trusted because they came from Amnesty International.
But Amnesty International isn't alone in thinking that Bush and Cheney should face legal consequences for the U.S. government's decision to send suspected terrorists to countries where they can be waterboarded.
In 2011, the U.S.-based Center for Constitutional Rights and the Canadian Centre for International Justice held a news conference in Vancouver. It was to announce that a 70-page indictment with more than 4,000 pages of supporting material had been sent to then-justice minister Rob Nicholson.
Another Canadian group, Lawyers Against the War, has also called for the prosecution of Bush and Cheney.
Canada's Criminal Code includes a maximum 14-year sentence for torture, which is also a crime under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.
Anyone who steps on Canadian soil is subject to torture-related criminal sanctions, even if these offences occurred outside of the country.
Yet according to Baird, it's just silly for Amnesty International to ask the Conservative government to apply the law to a former U.S. president and vice president.
Baird and his boss, Stephen Harper, have turned Canada into little more than a client state of the U.S. government, much as Poland or Hungary were clients of the former Soviet Union.
It would be easy to write off Baird as a buffoon in light of his recent statements. But given his influential position overseeing Canada's foreign-policy apparatus, he still has to be taken seriously.