John Baird, who has served in cabinet since Stephen Harper’s Conservatives came to power in Canada in 2006 and has been Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2011, resigned suddenly today during a speech in the House of Commons.
Although only 45, Baird has been an elected official for 20 years. His first ten years he served in Ontario politics as an MPP in various cabinet portfolios in the Tory governments of Mike Harris and Ernie Eves before the Tories lost power in 2003. The past decade has been spent as one of Harper’s most trusted lieutenants. As Minister of the Environment, Baird rejected the Kyoto Protocol and as Foreign Affairs Minister severed diplomatic ties with Iran. Baird has also been an outspoken supporter of Israel and his departure was noted in the Israeli media. He also made waves when he likened Russia’s actions in Ukraine to Nazi Germany’s invasion of Sudetenland.
Baird was often mentioned as a potential successor to Harper as leader of the Conservative Party and a future Prime Minister. The fact that Baird has resigned is cause for concern. Baird is the biggest name among two dozen Tory MPs who have announced they will not run in the 2015 federal election which will take place on October 19th. This is a telltale sign that a sitting government will likely lose power in the next election. This despite the fact that the Tories had gained on the Liberals (35% to 31%) in the last Ispos-Reid poll released in January.
While losing Baird doesn’t mean the Tories will lose the election, it is nevertheless a big blow. The silver lining is that there’s still 7 ½ months left before the election and a lifetime of events can happen between now and October.
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