02.03.2015 08:36 AM

Rusty

That’s what he was known as, back in university days: Rusty. Many of us were at Carleton, and he went to Queen’s, but we all knew each other through student politics. He was the head of the Ontario Young PCs, and I knew a lot of those guys. They basically run the country, now.

If you had suggested he was going to be Canada’s foreign minister one day, we would have told you that you were on crack. The OPCYA didn’t seem very much like a breeding ground for future statesmen, in those days.

But here is, being trumpeted by all and sundry, as he gets ready to take his leave. Did he have ambition? Buckets of it. Did he have unwavering loyalty for his leaders, Harris and Harper? Unquestionably. Did he have political smarts, acquired over three decades in Conservative corridors of power? Indeed he did.

Mostly, however, he was a success because he was always loyal to the top guy, and because he delighted in beating the stuffing out of the opposition. He was good at it.

Is Harper in trouble now that Baird is going? No, he’s not. Harper is the lead minister on the terrorism/security file, not Baird. Harper is the lead minister on broad economic themes, too. Not Joe Oliver.

Stephen Harper is this government. Rusty Baird was an important part of it, bien sur, but in a couple months – just like Lawrence Cannon, David Emerson, Peter Kent, Vic Toews, Chuck Strahl, Marjory LaBreton and so on – he’ll be more or less forgotten. That’s just how it goes, in politics as in life. You’re a winner and then, poof, you’re a memory. So it goes.

Rusty will move to Toronto and make lots of money and sleep in more. But his departure will not bring down this government.

Only Stephen Harper can do that, and he’s not going anywhere. No rust on him.

29 Comments


  1. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Ted Heighington says:

    Good points Warren, in fact, very realistic observations.

    There is only one rug [sorry Mr. Baird, no ill meant about yours] that covers the PMO’s “corridor of power” – and that is Harper himself. All the others are merely itinerant doormats….


  2. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Brad says:

    I am sure most Canadians have no idea who John Baird is, most certainly nobody under 30 does.


    • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
      bobfrombob says:

      Really? If they don’t know who Baird is, do they know who Harper is?


  3. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    doconnor says:

    Maybe if he was more statesmen like and less loyal he would be remembered for something.

    I’m sure lots of companies are looking for a good Yes Man.


    • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
      Robert Jago says:

      I suspect he’ll be remembered for being one of the strongest foreign ministers in the world on gay rights. With him gone, I can’t imagine anyone else in this government who will be there standing up for gays in Africa or Russia.


  4. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Al in Cranbrook says:

    Well said. Very capable MP and minister.

    Can’t help but think that seeing what happened to Jim Flaherty would cause some to rethink their plans for the future.


  5. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    cgh says:

    It’s always this way with all Canadian federal governments regardless of party. The PM always directs foreign affairs. That’s been the case at least since Mackenzie King bounced Walter Riddell from the League of Nations in 1935 over the question of sanctions on Italy.


  6. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Lance says:

    ………..acquired over three decades in Conservative corridors of power? Indeed he did.

    It doesn’t seem like that long does it? He is still a relatively young guy with an already impressive resume, heading off to another prestigious job where he will gain even more valuable experience.

    For what? Well, this likely won’t be the last we’ll see of Baird in politics. As you say; he is tough, loves the fight, is intelligent, ambitious and already widely experienced – clearly a man of substance. I wouldn’t count out a run at the leadership one day.


    • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
      JH says:

      Agreed. Won’t that be interesting for the junkies if it turned into a classic leadership battle of heavyweights like the old days, between say Baird, Kenny and Prentice?


  7. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Ted H says:

    Always spoke like he was in a hurry to get over his talking points before he ran out of breath and never really said anything other using the word “obviously” three times in every sound bite. Never heard a thoughtful, studied or even a human statement out of the man even once. Maybe he was a good guy in person, but his public persona was repulsive.


  8. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    smelter rat says:

    His over the top defense of Israel in the face of its war crimes against Palestinian civilians should temper any praise for an otherwise mediocre political career.


    • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
      Cranston Snord says:

      It was his unequivocal support of the only democracy in the Middle East which was so appealing — a true breath of fresh air in a very stale file.


      • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
        doconnor says:

        Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Cyprus and Turkey are all democratic to various degrees.


        • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
          Cranston Snord says:

          Egypt, Iran, Iraq….democratic “to various degrees”. Surely (don’t call me Shirley) you’re joking. Have you been attending JT’s seminar, Great Democracies 101? I think his first lecture is on China. Thank goodness John Baird had a grasp on the real world.


          • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
            doconnor says:

            All that effort to bring democracy to Iraq, which Baird (and you?) no doubt supported, yet it still doesn’t count.

            At least Trudeau showed signs of giving thought to the tradeoffs involved in different forms of government, rather then just parroting outdated talking points.


      • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
        smelter rat says:

        Sure. Tell it to all the dead Palestinian children.


  9. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Anonymous says:

    How about an explanation on why the Liberals supported the Con Spy Bill? JT was absent, hmm..


  10. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Eric M says:

    I suspect that we will see him back in 8 or 12 when the next regime has worn out its welcome.


  11. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Warren,

    John Baird holds a very important distinction in the Harper government. In deed if not in name, he was Harper’s deputy prime minister — the unexpendable go-to-guy to get things done. In addition, if it truly needed fixing — more often than not, it ended up on Baird’s desk.

    If Harper was thinking about something, it wasn’t long before Baird got it and set about to get it done. He will be greatly missed by the Prime Minister. No one else in cabinet can match Baird’s abilities as Conservatives are bound to quickly discover.


    • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
      Scotian says:

      This is something I strongly agree with. While I have massive contempt for Harper, his government, and both manner and direction he governs, and I found Baird incredibly irritating in his bulldog role in the HoC, I also noted that Baird was one of the few truly competent/capable Ministers within this government (for those wondering, I would put Flaherty and Kenney there as well, Clement and MacKay for some appear such but I find them both marginal if in different ways). This was a man that Harper could truly rely upon whatever task he set him on, and Baird would get it done for Harper, a true deputy leader within the government for Harper, and one he clearly could trust as much as he trusted anyone. So I do think this is a loss Harper will be feeling, and given the amount of high power talent Harper has lost from his inner circle over the past year or so between scandal and resignation, so much so that I think it may well have an effect on the next election cycle.

      It is always important to not let the contempt one may feel for the choices/direction taken by a government blind your to the abilities of those within it. Baird may have represented what for many people both centrist and progressive turned out to be a horror in Harper, but he did so in a very competent and capable manner, and to deny that reality is to limit one’s own ability to see and face reality. I’ll freely grant that one can say it was competence in the service of “evil” by the lights of so many opposed to the Harper government, but to deny the level of competence and capability shown in that service by Baird and grant that the respect competence should always be given even when used in ways one would prefer not, well that for me is simply not on.

      Baird’s loss to the Harper government I think is a blow because of that competence, and because he was one of the very few left that Harper could rely on for both loyalty AND competence in the tasks he set for him. In a government as full of shall we say less than impressive people Baird was always a bright shining star, and to say that loss will have no impact for Harper, I just cannot agree, even for a one man government like the Harper Government(tm).


      • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
        Ronald O'Dowd says:

        Scotian,

        A minor quibble: I would put both Flaherty and Kenney one rung lower on the ladder simply because ministers are not supposed to argue in public with each other. They both should have known better. Fighting over a matter not even related to federal jurisdiction. A big mistake.


        • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
          Scotian says:

          I place all three in the same general class, but I would rate Baird at the top of the three, no question. These three though were IMHO really the only really competent long lasting ministers in the entire Harper cabinet, although one might argue to include Prentice as well given what he has shown since leaving and heading to Albertan politics, but that would be about it. Clement and MacKay both have shown flashes of ability in advance of the bulk of the remaining ministers, but given the lowness of that threshold to clear…*shrug*. For the most part the pool of competent/capable Ministers in the Harper Government(tm) from its inception has been underwhelming beyond belief.


  12. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    ah says:

    I thought he might be throwing his hat into the ring for the Ontario PC leadership, but the cut off was Saturday…..Patrick Brown, no doubt, is breathing a sigh of relief……


    • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
      Cameron Prymak says:

      My thoughts exactly. I am sure we will see Mr. Baird again in a leadership role.


  13. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    socks clinton says:

    Baird because he’s not running in the next Federal election will still be eligible to collect his MP pension at 55 rather than 65 when the reforms kick in. This is aproximimatley a one million dollar liability that taxpayers will have to take into account while at the same time the Conservatives want to claw back the civil servants accumulated sick days which they don’t get to cash in when they retire anyways.


  14. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /nfs/c05/h06/mnt/72829/domains/warrenkinsella.com/html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Al in Cranbrook says:

    My hunch appears to have been right…

    http://www.ipolitics.ca/2015/02/03/is-john-baird-getting-out-when-the-gettings-good/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.