Diplomacy was is full bloom when John Baird announced his retirement this week. That was strange, Michael Harris writes, given Baird's record as Minister of Foreign Affairs:
Take a look at the damage Baird and company have done to Canada’s foreign service. After playing a key role in forging the protocols on climate change, Canada walked away from Kyoto. From Europe to India to South Africa, this country was pilloried for breaking our national word.
Canada walked away from the United Nations convention established to fight drought, primarily in Africa. Baird characterized the global effort as a fruitless “talkfest”. And he took no questions from the media on why Canada was the only country to see it that way.
CIDA, Canada’s foreign-aid agency, was swallowed up by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Bottom line? CIDA is now just part of the Harper government’s program to turn our diplomats into salesman, linking foreign aid to doing business with your “benefactor.” On Baird’s watch, foreign aid to poor countries has plummeted. Some of it has been redirected to help pay for the bad corporate citizenship of our mining companies operating abroad.
Canadian Foreign Affairs professionals had to watch in horror as the Harper government refused the United Arab Emirates more commercial flights into Canada, after the UAE had given us the use of Camp Mirage as a staging area for our troops going into Afghanistan.
Canada made Mexicans get visas to visit.
The foreign service cringed as the government sold off embassy properties around the world and refused to contribute to the IMF fund to assist a struggling European Union.
The atmosphere became so toxic over at Foreign Affairs that it led to the longest strike in federal public service history. The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers was out for six months over the revolutionary concept of equal pay for work of equal value.
As Baird trots off to make big money somewhere, let's not forget what his tenure at Foreign Affairs cost this country.