Friday, February 06, 2015

Let's Not Forget


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.


Dana said...

As a friend said of him, "A shit in shit's clothing."

Owen Gray said...

If that's how he strikes his friends, Dana, imagine the impression he leaves on others who are not so friendly.

Scotian said...

Agreed. While I have been noting his competence as a minister, one of the very few within the Harper Government(tm), I've also noted that also means the damage he has done in advancing the Harper agenda is therefore that much more profound, or as I put it somewhere, in the service of what many of us would consider "evil". I was making that point because I think this loss for Harper is another one that may actually have real impact on Harper, because of how few people of real ability he has ever had in his cabinets, and Baird was someone he trusted not to me after his job which made him doubly valuable for him.

I'm the type of person that gives the devil his due where appropriate, but I also do not forget that it is the devil getting it. Baird deserves respect for his ability, but not for what he put that ability to I would argue. I also think it is worth noting that ability and what does it say that he suddenly left this close to an election, especially since less than 6 months ago Harper made a point of asking his caucus for anyone not planning on sticking through the next election to let him know then, and clearly Baird did not. So why did Baird do so now, what did he see, and given how capable he has proven to be what does it say that he has taken this decision at this time right in the middle of when the foreign affairs file is as hot as it is? By noting the competence you also give weight to those questions I believe, and so far they are all still unknown and for me bothersome and still in my mind.

Owen Gray said...

Much has been made of Baird's ability to communicate with those on the other side of the House, Scotian. That is a rare quality in a Harperite.

But, that said, he still managed to do untold damage to Canada's international standing. He failed in his most important responsibility.

mogs moglio said...

It was always about Baird and his pet Harper. So it seems Baird decided to give away his pet in a very sudden manner.

I agree with Michael Harris he ruined our reputation abroad but remember Harper was always pulling the levers and pulling on the leashes.

Harper is to blame and he alone ruined our reputation by doing things like idolizing Israel and bombing middle eastern countries for them. I am worried I may never be able to travel internationally anymore due to the Harper-con clown show. Baird made the right decision that brings the number to 22 that have left Harper in a vacuum. Tch Tch Steve you will have very few friends and no life after the electorate abandons you...

Anonymous said...

I wonder how effective Baird was in his rather tardy attempt to have Al-Jazeera Canadian reporter freed from Egyptian prison. Maybe he's running from a public failure.

Owen Gray said...

That's an interesting bit of speculation, Anon. I suspect that, with time, Baird will be viewed as just that -- a failure.

Owen Gray said...

Let's hope that moment isn't far away, Mogs.