John Baird, one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s most trusted ministers, announced on Feb. 3 that he would be resigning his post and leaving federal politics.
His departure is seen as a blow to the Harper government and its prospects in the next election due to his capable handling of several difficult posts.
During the last four years as Canada’s foreign affairs minister, Baird is credited with raising the profile of an office that was seen as a relatively low priority for Harper before Baird’s appointment.
Baird has been described as a pit bull for the government for his staunch partisanship during question period, but since announcing his resignation he has been receiving accolades—even from the opposition—for his passion and work ethic.
It was back in the late fall that Baird began to confide in friends that he was contemplating his departure.
Reports suggest he is interested in exploring opportunities in the private sector while he is in the prime of his working life, and is leaving office at the height of his political career to make best use of his hard-earned reputation.
The Conservatives point to Baird’s political success in various portfolios, particularly the role he played in ushering billions of dollars of infrastructure funding out the door during the economic downturn. He has caused Harper few headaches—his request for gold-embossed business cards was one of the minor embarrassments.
International Trade Minister Ed Fast will fill the post on an interim basis.