John Baird: ’The time has come for me to start a new chapter’

For the record: John Baird’s remarks in the House of Commons this morning
CORRECTED VERSION - CORRECTS DATE - Foreign Minister John Baird is congratulated in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015 after announcing his resignation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Foreign Minister John Baird is congratulated in the House of Commons on Feb. 3 after announcing his decision to step away from politics. (Adrian Wyld, CP)
Foreign Minister John Baird is congratulated in the House of Commons on Feb. 3 after announcing his decision to step away from politics. (Adrian Wyld, CP)

For the record, here is what Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told the House of Commons this morning:

Mr. Speaker, let me start by saying, overwhelmingly optimistic, I am about the future of this country. Optimistic because, over the past nine years, I have seen the stature of our country grow, in the eyes of the world. The world has seen and come to know and to count upon Canada’s strength — strength created by sustained economic growth and by our enduring values; strength through our commitment to freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Simply put, the world has seen — in fact, the world continues to see — the best that Canada has to offer.

When I joined my good friend, Mike Harris, back in 1995, I was perhaps just a little naive, driven by ideology, defined by partisanship at the age of 25. I quickly learned, though, to make a difference, to really make a difference, one cannot be defined by partisanship, nor by ideology. One needs, instead, to be defined by one’s values. I believed then, and I continue to believe, that government has to be there for people; that, through hard work, it can be a force for good.

Related post: Nick Taylor-Vaisey: John Baird: A man for all questions

When each of us chooses to enter public life, we do so united in one simple desire: the desire to leave behind a better country, a better province, a better community, to pass on to the next generation a better place than the one we inherited from those who came before us.

Today, after serving 10 years in provincial politics, 10 years here in federal politics, 10 ministerial portfolios, and with more grey hairs than I choose to admit, I can step back and say that we have an Ottawa that is vibrant and strong, a province whose future is bright and hopeful, with strong health care and an innovative and resilient workforce, a country that is the best in the world. We led the G7 in job creation and we have been a beacon of dependable light in a world that is ruled by far too many dark and stormy seas.

Related post: John Geddes: Baird shouted lots, but had a subtler side, too 

Today, Canada stands tall in the world, united with our allies and partners in the fight against terror, side by side with the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, strong relationships in the Arab world, firm in our objection to militaristic expansionism in Eastern Europe, an expanded diplomatic footprint in Asia, and strong trade ties that will create lasting prosperity for generations to come. Canada stands tall in the world.

Last night, I spoke to the Prime Minister and informed him that I was standing down from cabinet. I expressed my intention not to run in the next general election in the new riding of Nepean. I also expressed my intention to stand down as member of Parliament for Ottawa West—Nepean in the weeks ahead.

I will miss this place very much and many of the people in it, on all sides, but the time has come for me to start a new chapter in my life.

Related post: Paul Wells: Exit Baird, stage right

If the House will indulge me, I would like to extend my profound gratitude and admiration to a few individuals who really made a difference for me.

I wish to thank my family for always being at and on my side. It is never easy to see one’s son, grandson, brother, or uncle, under the public’s microscope. Not only have they been my strength during the difficult times, they have kept me grounded during the good ones.