Musings —02.03.2015 08:36 AM—
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.