“I was perhaps just a little naive. Driven by ideology, defined by partisanship, at the age of 25,” was how John Baird began his emotional resignation speech today at the House of Commons.
After 20 years in politics, the Foreign Affairs Minister is stepping down.
“I quickly learned though to make a difference, to really make a difference. You can’t be defined by partisanship nor by ideology. You need instead to be defined by your values,” he said.
Not only is he stepping down as foreign affairs minister, the 45-year old is leaving federal politics. His announcement came earlier today when he informed Prime Minister Stephen Harper yesterday that he would be leaving cabinet and not standing for re-election as a Member of Parliament.
Mr. Baird told the Commons, “After serving 10 years in provincial politics, 10 years here in federal politics, 10 ministerial portfolios and more grey hairs than I care to admit … the time has come for me to start a new chapter in my life.”
Sources close to Baird say that after 20 years in office it was simply time for him to move on and seek other opportunities and that he has these opportunities in the private sector.
He was clear in dismissing any doubt that his decision for leaving was only for a career change and said of Mr. Harper that, “There is no better person to lead our country into its 150 year.”
Paul Dewar, NDP foreign affairs critic, said he was surprised to hear of Mr. Baird’s sudden resignation. “One thing I can say about him is he was in politics to make a difference. He believed in what he was doing and for that I give him a lot of respect, even though we disagreed on a lot of issues.”
Baird’s resignation as minister will take effect immediacy while his resignation as MP will take effect in a few days, fueling speculation that he may have a different opportunity lined up in the private sector.