|(Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)|
Baird is highly marketable and sources say he has received a specific job offer but he has not disclosed what his next chapter will be. The larger question for us is what will the Conservatives next chapter be? Baird's departure is a huge loss for Harper and the Conservative government. PM Harper, last summer, rebuilt his cabinet to carry the party to the next election. Baird is not easy to replace. He was one of Harper's most reliable and effective communicators. While Baird has kindly stated that Stephen Harper is "his friend and mentor," Baird did not genuflect before Harper. He has strong opinions and he spoke loudly on matters of conscience if needed at the Cabinet table. Harper needs people whom he respects who can disagree and dissent when making decisions. Together with the resignation and sudden death of John Flaherty last year, Harper has lost two such voices. Further, Baird was a trusted political ally with whom Harper has been able to safely speak about strategy and political matters.
Where does Harper find someone to seamlessly move into Baird's critical portfolio? Canada faces challenging foreign affairs issues including the role of Canadian Forces in the battle against ISIS and most immediately, a decision on whether to extend Canada's mission in Iraq.
Some of my family and friends hope Conservatives will lose the next election - badly. My politics are conservative but I am concerned about aspects of policy and personality. I will be watching carefully.
Baird was interviewed yesterday by Peter Mansbridge following his announcement. Watch Mansbridge One on One on CBC News Network, this Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET and on CBC-TV Sunday at 1 p.m.