Last Monday, Rick Roth—presumably the lisp-stricken cousin of a famous rapper, but more notably the spokesperson for Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird—announced that Baird would soon resign from the Harper cabinet. The resignation rocked Canada to its core. As soon as the news broke, the comparisons flooded in. “Another rat jumps ship.” “He got outta there like a vegan in a butcher shop.” And, from someone who clearly never read the Old Testament, “this is like Exodus all over again!” Feelings aside, some facts are universal. Canada now has a new Minister of Foreign Affairs (Rob Nicholson), and the people of Ottawa West-Nepean will no longer know the name of their MP. What will Baird leave behind?
With a 20-year political career under his belt, Baird left (barely) before half his life had been consumed by bullshit. Good for him. Speaking before the House, he reflected on his life in politics. Baird admitted that, at the age of 25, he was “naïve…driven by ideology, defined by partisanship.” That may seem like trivial nostalgia, but it’s actually a significant memory; it proves that Baird has developed. The difference between Baird at 25 and Baird now at 45 is that, at the age of 45, he is no longer naïve. He has grown aware that he is driven by ideology and partisanship. It took 20 years to make that leap, but some things came faster than others. For example, Baird the politician “quickly learned [that] to really make a difference, you can’t be defined by partisanship, nor by ideology.” This wasn’t a great line, since it led us to infer that, despite Baird’s wisdom, he was never able to bring himself to make a difference.
Regardless of his ability to affect change, Baird the pensioner must feel like he left the country in good shape, because he says that he is “optimistic about Canada’s future.” Why wouldn’t he be? He is one of 40 current cabinet ministers, none of whom have ever had a demonstrable impact on government policy independent of the Prime Minister. His resignation changes next to nothing about the cabinet or the government. Furthermore, Nicholson, Baird’s replacement, inherits a portfolio that is overly simplistic and a failsafe by design. He can match Baird’s performance by following his protocol. For any given foreign affairs dispute, he need ask only if Israel is involved. If the answer is yes, Nicholson must side with Israel. If the answer is no, Nicholson must still side with Israel. We wonder why no one listens when we speak at the UN.
Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Baird left a legacy in Parliament. Friends and enemies alike congratulated him after he delivered his farewell speech. They showered him with praise he may or may not have deserved (it was unclear whether or not this praise was genuine). Take, for example, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s official statement about Baird’s resignation, in which he expressed “regret and affection.” Everyone knows the robo-overlord is incapable of expressing feelings, let alone complex feelings like regret. How much does Harper love Baird? He expresses affection toward the 45-year-old man, but he doesn’t even hug his son!
People will speculate about Baird’s future until the cows come home, but that topic is less interesting than is the speculation about why Baird resigned in the first place. Why now? Why at all? Perhaps Baird knew of a stinker coming down the pipe to the CPC head office. Maybe he wanted to leave before another campaign officially kicked off. Alternatively, it’s entirely possible that he genuinely wanted to leave now for personal reasons—but, let’s face it, that’s far less interesting than other possibilities. We here at the True North Times enjoy a good story, so we can’t help but hope that this is the start of a series of curveballs.