Tuesday, February 3, 2015

On John Baird's Resignation....

The one thing that gets me the most about the Harper Conservatives and their stint in government over the last decade has been the utter ineptitude of some of the cabinet that has been rotated through. Names like Julian Fantino, Bev Oda, Peter MacKay and so on are always quick examples to point to when discussing whether Harper has poor judgement in his cabinet appointment process.

But, let's give credit where its due - Stephen Harper's confidence in John Baird always seem well placed. The member for Ottawa West-Nepean probably infuriates a lot of people on my side of the aisle, but he's never been given a file - and he's had many, ranging from the Treasury Board to his current Foreign Affairs role - and mucked it up for the government or, honestly, the country. He's a capable guy who has proven himself to be a reliable leader when called upon, and I think anyone can appreciate that.

So it puzzles me as to why he is leaving now, less than a year away from an election. The stated reason is that Baird wants to join the private sector, which could mean there is a job offer out there for him but its contingent upon his immediate resignation from government - a possibility, though I think anyone seeking to hire the current Foreign Affairs minister is probably not the one dictating the times he can leave his current post.

Maybe, and this is pure speculation, he's tired of being Harper's puppet. To me, Baird never seemed to be the sort to just fall in line like so many of the circus seals we see in government, and in his new role, I doubt Baird had a lot of latitude as he might have enjoyed as Harper's "Mr. Fixit" previously. Maybe going around and parroting Harper's reactionary foreign relations policies, being pelted with stones and shoes abroad, and having to struggle with files like that of Mohamed Fahmy just wasn't what he wanted to do.

Or, maybe, he's just tired of the political game. He has been an elected politician for two decades now, working first in the Harris government and then Harper's, so that wouldn't be surprising either.

Well, whatever the reason, I salute you Mr. Baird for your dedicated and competent work. Its all we could ever ask for a as a country, especially given some of your contemporaries. Hopefully whoever succeeds you will be similarly useful.

23 comments:

  1. You're kidding right! The was nothing competent about Baird. Dedicated yes, but to Harpers neo-liberal agenda.The international community thought he was a hick and Canadians thought he was an embarrassment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I have to disagree. I like John Baird. I can't say I agreed with him much, but I like him.

      Delete
    2. The international community appreciates a Canadian foreign policy that works with its allies and is ready and willing to stand up against terrorism and human rights abuses. Liberals might be willing for IS to commit genocide against Yazidis but, Conservatives have morals and know that indiscriminate murder is wrong!

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    4. ROTFLMAO. Yes. Only Conservatives have morals and know that murder is wrong, well, at least indiscriminate murder. Presumably, discriminating murderers are subject to shades of grey according to bede's indiscriminate writing. Anyway, bede dunelm, how's life in your little, binary world of black and white?

      Delete
    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    6. Better than Winter in Calgary and revering an underachieving Maple Laugh.

      It is very unfortunate people like you CuJoYYC are too afraid to stand up for what is right and instead attempt to justify doing nothing when clear crimes and human rights violations are committed. If Churchill had such an ambiguous attitude toward foreign policy in the 1930's and '40's I'd hate to imagine the World we would live in today.

      Canada and other countries do allow focused murders and assassinations whether it be judicially authorised or through international fora such as the UN Security Council. Moral people understand this. immoral people waver and do nothing and allow atrocities to be committed.

      Delete
  2. If he does not run again, he gets to collect a pension $100k a year starting at age 55. If he runs again he cannot start collecting the 100k until age 65. A change in pension rules kicks in. He's quitting for a $1 million.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "I salute you Mr. Baird for your dedicated and competent work". LOL. I'm going to ask the same thing, "You're kidding, right?" I just might have to stop following this blog. Just, wow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, I agree with Kyle. I'll wager I have been as vocal an opponent of Harper and his government as anyone, as disgusted and horrified by the directions it went, and that includes Baird's contributions, but he was one of the very few truly competent and capable people and Ministers this government ever had. Remember, one can praise competence and ability for what it is even if you feel it was in the service of that which you oppose utterly, and that is what I get the feeling Kyle is doing here. It isn't that he thinks Baird was so wonderful, but lets face it, in the cast of midgets and pigmies Harper tends to build his cabinet with Baird was a giant. He never screwed up a portfolio he was given, and was one of the handful of stable Ministers we have ever seen, and he did his job to the best of his ability, which was clearly quite a lot. That you, I and even Kyle did not agree/like that direction does not take away from his competence nor his capability, and it is fair now that he is leaving to note that.

      I would also point out that this loss, like Flaherty and Wright, is of one of the few truly capable people in Harpers inner circle, that has to have a negative impact in Harpers ability to hold onto power, and that is also why it is worth noting his ability and such. To do so allows also for speculation as to why someone with his skills and capabilities would choose now to walk away, just as we are less than a year off from the next election.

      I'll always acknowledge competence and ability, even when used in the service of that which I oppose, because that is important so as to stay grounded in reality IMHO. I am fine with Kyle doing so and what he has said about him, I thin it is fair. Now, I do not think Kyle was in any way suddenly agreeing with what Baird was doing/saying as a Harper Minister, just that he was competent and capable and one of the only Harper Ministers who did his job as a Minister in a manner that actually was a positive in terms of running/managing his Ministry of the day. Not the direction, but lets face it, just a competent Minister these days is truly a unicorn in the Harper government, and Baird was that unicorn more than any other.

      Delete
    2. Point out where you believe Baird has fallen flat, and I'll gladly change my opinion on the evidence.

      Delete
    3. That's exactly what I was going for, Scotian - thank you. I agree on every point.

      Delete
  4. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/baird-hit-peak-politics---and-picked-the-right-time-to-leave/article22758865/

    ReplyDelete
  5. Baird's departure leaves one fewer career politicians in the Harper Cabal™. Just a baby step but for that, we should all be thankful.
    Harper, Kenney, Poilievre, Clement and other careerists ought follow Johnny out the door.

    ReplyDelete
  6. What am I missing? There was nothing competent about Baird. He either agreed or obeyed Harpers beliefs on Foreign affars.
    That being military instead of diplomacy, the unquestioning support of Israel, the antagonistic attitude to Russia, in spite of the truth. There was nothing that he stood out for. He was a blowhard who had no problem lying to the Canadian people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What you are missing is that he did these things in a very competent and skilled manner, far more so than the average person within the Harper Cabinet. I'm not praising Baird for how he used those skills, indeed because he was so capable made him one of the most damaging members of this government to the ideals and principles of government I cherish short of Harper himself. The point about Baird that is noteworthy is that unlike the bulk of the Harper sycophantic incompetent twits who make up his Cabinet who can do little more than repeat talking points over and over again this man could think on his feet, adapt quickly, and manage well. That he did so in the service of that which I/we despise and hold in contempt does not change this truth, he was a competent and capable Minister, one of the very few Harper had in his entire governing history.

      The praise is for the man being competent and capable, not for how he used it. Indeed, as Ian Capstick just went off about on P&P Power Panel he was incredibly destructive in most of his political career to anything a progressive would value (and more than a few centrists would value as well I'd say), but he was able to be so because he was so strong and capable. This is also though why I believe this loss is a significant hit for Harper, the few really competent people he had around him have mostly vanished between resignation and loss from scandal, both in the Cabinet and in his immediate inner circle at PMO (Wright was another example of very competent and capable in ability even though it was in the service of that which we find repugnant).

      I think you and some are mistaking our definition of competence as running good government for the benefit of most/all Canadians. On that scale no Harperite will ever qualify, but in terms of basic ability regardless of purpose used, on that scale Baird was one of the best Harper ever had. Does this help explain it at all?

      Delete
  7. What am I missing? There was nothing competent about Baird. He either agreed or obeyed Harpers beliefs on Foreign affars.
    That being military instead of diplomacy, the unquestioning support of Israel, the antagonistic attitude to Russia, in spite of the truth. There was nothing that he stood out for. He was a blowhard who had no problem lying to the Canadian people.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I disagree. I know what competency means. Maybe competency is irrelevant in this context, I thought his ideas were destructive for Canada. How he implemented them is irrelevant to me. It's sort of like saying you disagree with Nazi ideas, but admire their competency. What were some of the things he was competent at?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pretty low comparing John Baird and the Government to the Nazis. His ideas were "destructive for Canada"? what does that mean?

      Antagonistic attitude toward Russia: Russia invades the Ukraine yet, Canada is the antagonist? Are you joking? Yes support for Israel because like it or not Israel is a democratic Western country. The international community agreed it should be created. Ararfat was handed a very generous peace offer at camp David with Rabin and Clinton and turned it down. If the Arabs aren't willing to accept Israel's "best offer" what is there to negotiate?

      Delete
  9. I do not support the ideology of the "new" Conservative Party and I am strongly critical of how the Stephen Harper government has managed many profiles.

    That being said - credit is due where credit is due. John Baird has been a heavyweight in cabinet. Same goes for the late Jim Flaherty or Jason Kenney. These are competent (though ideological) voices in a cabinet full of goofballs.

    I think John Baird has resigned since he accomplished all he can in government. He is 45 and its best to seek opportunities elsewhere now then wait longer. Newspapers have also published that the death of Jim Flaherty has contributed to this decision.

    On a side note, Stephen Harper wants the Conservative Party to be a dominant force in Canadian politics. I am surprised that he has not nurtured young talent. Too often able ministers are chained to PMO talking points. What happens to this party once Stephen Harper leaves?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the big question, Jay - what *does* happen to the Conservatives when Harper leaves, or is defeated? There is some young talent within the party; Michelle Rempel or Lisa Raitt, for instance, are two people that I think would do very well in a leadership role (Raitt's propensity for silly remarks aside - I mean, let's not forget some of the things our current leader has said). But so much seems to reside upon Harper being the main force behind decision making in that party. They'd have to reorganize to be sure. Maybe they would be better off for it.

      Delete
    2. It will definitely be interesting to see what happens to the party post-Harper. I suspect the party will go through some renewal. There will be ideological cracks in the Conservative tent.

      The next leader will praise Harper's "economic stewardship" and ability to attract new Canadians into the party. But the new leader will likely want a more "kinder, gentler" party that's pro-environment, collaborate with premiers and give more power to MPs and grassroots members.

      Delete
  10. I find the rabid partisanship in the comments to be very disappointing. At the risk of having Kyle strangle me, if you can't find a single Conservative, NDPer, Green, or Bloc member you think is competent, I don't want you reading my posts, because I don't want to associate with the likes of you.

    Not liking Baird is fine, but I fear it may simply be a side-effect of partisanship among some.

    ReplyDelete