Good riddance, John Baird

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      Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird's resignation is being greeted with the usual positive pap from the mainstream media.

      Baird's penultimate statement today (February 3)—that people need to be defined by their values—was the type of sound bite that he mastered over 20 years in politics. His gift of the gab often camouflaged a foreign policy that was out of sync with many Canadians' values.

      The negative fallout of the Conservatives' foreign policy has undermined Canada's reputation in many countries.

      Let's start with the issue of government surveillance. I recall an interview Baird gave to Canadian Press in 2013 in which he urged whistle blower Edward Snowden to give up to U.S. authorities because it has a "free and fair justice system".

      There was no mention of how often U.S. authorities execute prisoners. Baird was unconcerned that the Obama administration has used the Espionage Act twice as often as all U.S. administrations in the previous century.

      Instead, Baird was quick to condemn Amnesty International for having the audacity to suggest that former U.S. president George W. Bush and former U.S. vice president Dick Cheney should be held accountable for alleged war crimes.

      In the Middle East, Baird gleefully advanced Stephen Harper's agenda. For that, Baird was pelted with eggs last month by Palestinians in the West Bank who've been appalled by Canada's one-sided approach.

      In a book called The Ugly Canadian, writer Yves Engler chronicled how the Harper government's foreign policy extended to supporting the export of cancer-causing chrysolite asbestos in countries like India. The Harperites opposed a private member's bill encouraging mining companies to meet basic human-rights standards, and supported coups against elected presidents in Paraguay and Honduras, which benefited Canadian companies.

      The Conservatives with Baird as foreign minister unnecessarily shut down all diplomatic relations with Iran—making it difficult for Canadians of Iranian descent to visit relatives—even as Iran is becoming more important under its new president in containing Sunni extremism in the Middle East.

      After Baird became foreign minister, a political hack like former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell was named to Canada's top diplomatic post in London. The appointment was symptomatic of the Harper government's contempt for the professional foreign service, which manifested itself in the dreadful treatment of whistle blower Richard Colvin and a dismissive view of the United Nations.

      Meanwhile, as climate change became an increasingly important issue on the world stage, Baird remained fairly silent, toeing the Harper line. Baird also oversaw Canada's retreat from Africa and pivot toward Latin America, which was explained in a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.

      Baird was a Harper crony for a long time. He supported Harper's party leadership bid and oversaw the introduction of the Accountability Act. Government watchdog Duff Conacher chronicled how it fails miserably in achieving real accountability.

      In 2007, Conacher told the Straight that Baird's legislation broke 22 of Harper's 52 pre-election promises in this area.

      To be fair, Baird was vocally supportive of equal rights for the LGBT community, but that only reflected mainstream Canadian opinion on this issue.

      And he stepped up with generous relief programs after natural disasters, like Typhoon Haiyan. It's worth noting, however, that this only occurred after the Conservatives had been hammered for their tepid early reaction to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

      Today, expect to hear a great deal about these "achievements". This will come even from Opposition MPs, who don't want to appear too churlish when one of their Conservative colleagues in Parliament has created distance between himself and the prime minister.

      But Canadians across the country shouldn't be sucked in by this. As foreign-affairs minister, Baird was a disaster. And I'm not too optimistic that the next Conservative foreign affairs minister will improve on that record.

      Comments

      28 Comments

      MD

      Feb 3, 2015 at 10:57am

      The next FAM is Ed "even though its on video, I didn't point my finger at that woman and make a shooting motion" Fast.

      He then held a press conference to deny that the video existed, even though it still does on YouTube.

      Fast is also one of those Tories with a penchant for challenging Opposition MP's to physical confrontations, and then talking like some sort of tough guy cowboy. Think Darrel Stinson.

      Fast has all the hallmarks of a loud mouthed bully, so he should fill Baird's shoes nicely

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      Million Dollar Man

      Feb 3, 2015 at 11:53am

      $100,000 per year times 10 years of extra pension - by resigning now he makes a cool million.

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      Richard Studhorse

      Feb 3, 2015 at 12:04pm

      All the media crap I've read so far does not at all talk about how dismal Baird was as Minister for Foreign Affairs except for Charlie Smith and the Georgia Straight.

      He was a horrible Minister, loudmouthed and of course a puppet of the Israeli Jewish lobby in Canada.

      Up until now, no one has questioned why he chose to step down at this time.

      Perhaps Harper has told him to get in line after Jason Kenny for the top dog slot, and maybe he doesn't want to wait that long for an opportunity that may never come.
      Maybe the neocons internal polls suggest that they will lose the election and Baird feels it is better to go out at the top.

      Sure he'll get offered lots of seat on different Boards, my guess it is probably going to be the Onyx Corp. ( Nigel Wright's boss owns the company).

      Maybe he'll ask Harper to appoint him to the UN where he can continue to be belligerent and to do the neo-cons bidding.

      So far Harper has shown how bad he is at choosing people to act as Canada'a top ambassador. It the old boys neo hack club over and over again. Look at this Campbell freak sitting in London, drinking English gin and doing nothing worthwhile. Who the fuck are these guys ? This has to stop.

      My feeling is the Green Party is going to surprise everyone this time.
      , so watch out you neocon fucks. Mother earth is coming to get you.

      Good bye and good riddance John Baird.....

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      Xtina

      Feb 3, 2015 at 12:50pm

      And it's about time Baird left! Worst Foreign Affairs minister for Canadians EVER.

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      the revolving door of Con. men

      Feb 3, 2015 at 12:52pm

      What can I say except Vote & give your head a shake if you consider this bunch ,
      The more people vote the less chance Con. men get in .

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      Apneaman

      Feb 3, 2015 at 3:08pm

      Forget about displaying the Canadian flag on your luggage while traveling. The Harper Gang's policy's and our apathy have destroyed over a hundred years of good will internationally. The Maple Leaf in now considered a symbol of Americas favorite client state and the ultimate in eco destruction. Your just as likely to be kidnapped or beheaded as an American. Quite a turn around in less than a decade eh? Go back to your electronic distractions now.

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      Sam

      Feb 3, 2015 at 3:16pm

      This article is extremely biased and borderline radical on the extreme Left. God only knows what would happen to this country if the government was satisfactory in your eyes

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      Alan Ranta

      Feb 3, 2015 at 3:28pm

      What a horrible man. I'm so glad that goon is gone.

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      cochrane

      Feb 3, 2015 at 3:31pm

      Baird always reminded me of the school-yard bully. His blind support of the Israel genocide conducted against the Gazans of Palestine, left no doubt in my mind as to his neo-con ambitions. Suffice it to say, that some of the more rightist NDP'ers in Parliament were also a disappointment, displaying crocodile tears over the death of Ariel Sharon, better known as the "butcher of Beirut", and their staunch display of support for the Israeli atrocities. I shudder to think that he (Baird) may be posted to participate in the UN organization, as if Canada hasn't been sullied enough as it is!

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      ACMESalesRep

      Feb 3, 2015 at 3:35pm

      “This article is extremely biased and borderline radical on the extreme Left”? Only if you're a right-wing extremist or the most dedicated of Conservative supporters. Most would consider it objective, if critical, of Baird's record. It's certainly an accurate accounting of his actions.

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