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.