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10 crimes of John Baird

February 5, 2015

Federal Conservative MP John Baird has unexpectedly left politics, perhaps for a high paying private sector job. While the media have heaped praise on Baird, this is the record of the policies he helped promote over the past 20 years.
He admitted he started politics "driven by ideology" (including naming his cat Thatcher), but this didn't change. Whatever Ministry he presided over, he waged war against those affected—from the Minitry of Community and Social Services, to Transport and Environment Minister, and finally Minister of Foreign Affairs.
1. Welfare cuts that killed Kimberly Rogers
As Minister of Community and Social Services in the Ontario government of Mike Harris in the late 1990s, Baird presided over massive cuts to welfare, along with scapegoating policies like a welfare fraud hotline and mandatory drug testing. As a result Kimberly Rogers, who was pregnant, was confined to her cramped apartment during a heat wave, and died.
2. Corporate corruption
Baird’s campaign against welfare recipients was meant to distract from privatizing social services for corporate profits—transferring money from the poor to the super rich. The company Accenture, which donated to the Tories, billed the government hundreds of millions of dollars.
Like fellow Tory Jim Flaherty, Baird then went to join the Federal government.
3. Defunding the fight against oppression
As President of the Treasury board in 2006, Baird cut defunded the Status of Women, closing many of its offices. Baird called these and other programs like adult literacy and youth employment, “wasteful.” Baird also defunded the Court Challenges Program that promoted language and equality rights.
4. Refusing public transit funding
In 2009 Toronto asked for $1.2 billion for 204 streetcars, which would create thousands of green jobs and reduce carbon emissions. Baird’s response, as Minister of Transport, was that Toronto was “bitching at us” and should “fuck off.”
5. Killing Kyoto
Baird applied the same vehemence to global climate treaties as Environment Minister in 2007. In order to support the tar sands that devastate Indigenous communities and destroy the climate, helping the Tories kill the Kyoto protocol—receiving the Fossil of the Day award in the process.
6. Vilifying Iran and Russia
The last four years of Baird’s career have been as Foreign Minister, justifying Canadian imperialism and its allies around the world. Baird intervened to heighten tensions in the Ukraine, comparing Russia to the Nazis, and imposed sanctions in order to promote Canadian gas companies. He has also vilified Iran, calling it “the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world,” to justify sanctions that have impoverished ordinary Iranians.
7. Defending Israeli war crimes
Meanwhile Baird has unconditionally defended Israeli war crimes—including illegal settlements and blockade, apartheid wall, attacks on humanitarian flotilla, and periodic massacres in Gaza.
8. Supporting Arab dictators
As well as supporting Israeli apartheid, Baird has joined all repressive Arab regimes complicit with it. In 2013, Baird went on an imperialist tour—including Bahrain, UAE, Qatar and Jordan. These, along with Saudi Arabia and the new dictatorship in Egypt, have butchered the Arab Spring, but Baird has been silent—leaving Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy to languish in a Cairo jail for more than a year.
9. Bombing Libya and Iraq
As well as indirectly intervening against the Arab Spring Baird was Foreign Affairs Minister during Canada’s bombing of Libya—which highjacked and undermined the revolution—and finally getting Harper the Iraq War he always wanted, to the benefit of Canadian weapons corporations.
10. Refusing to sign Arms Trade Treaty
While Canada has sold $15 billion in weapons to the Saudi dictatorship, which routinely beheads people, Baird made Canada the only NATO country to refuse to sign the Arms Trade Treaty that aims to reduce the flow of arms to humanitarian crises.
Unfortunately Baird left politics voluntarily, and was not driven from office for these policies. But he did get a goodbye reception in Palestine recently, where his car was pelted with eggs. Good riddance to John Baird.
If you're in Toronto, join the anti-war teach-in Sunday February 15, 1-5pm at the Steelworkers Hall, organized by the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War

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