John Baird’s good-news trip to Latin America

Tease the day: The foreign affairs minister returns to Ottawa with plenty of good press

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

John Baird can win good press more easily than most of his colleagues in the federal cabinet. Last week, Baird assured the NDP’s Pat Martin during Question Period that Canada would never be a safe haven for zombies (“ever!”), and a video of the exchange had the world swooning over Canada’s adorable parliamentarians. That was funny Baird.

This week, the foreign affairs minister is wrapping up a trip to Latin America. Baird’s sojourn to Mexico, Cuba, Peru, Panama and the Dominican Republic was widely cast as a successful reinvigoration of Canada’s interests in the region. Wherever Baird travelled, good press followed. The Globe‘s Campbell Clark filed on the importance of the trip’s Mexican leg—spoiler: it’s all about trade. The Star‘s Tim Harper observed the quiet diplomacy at work on the trip, “proof that sharp elbows are not always needed on the world stage.” The trip, wrote Harper, was a deft move to improve relations in the region as Cubans and Venezuelans prepare for post-Castro and post-Chavez regimes, respectively.

To top off the trip, Baird talked away the Venezuelans backing off a meeting in Caracas, simply saying he hopes to “find another mutually convenient time” to meet with his counterparts in that country. The Venezuelan rebuff was left at that, mostly. And now Baird returns home, having secured a good news week for a government in Ottawa that could use the help.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with new documents detailing the multi-million-dollar cost of two cancelled Ontario gas plants. The National Post fronts the cost to Attawapiskat of blockading an ice road to the nearby De Beers diamond mine. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with Toronto’s new “sanctuary city” status, which will provide city services to undocumented migrants. The Ottawa Citizen leads with a pair of security threats involving Canada’s airports last year that had authorities across Canada on alert. iPolitics fronts a critical look at the new federal office for the promotion of religious freedom. leads with a judge’s pending decision in the bail hearing of accused murderer Oscar Pistorius. National Newswatch showcases a National Post brief on Senator Patrick Brazeau’s poetic return to Twitter last night.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Mountie firing. An RCMP officer who was dismissed after a raft of allegations, including assault of an ex-wife, won a review of his termination after the ex-wife’s testimony was questioned. 2. Asylum claimants. Asylum applications to Canada have plummeted since the government enacted controversial new rules that fast-track claims from a list of safe countries.
3. Death benefits. The Quebec government plans to hike payments to families who lose children to violent crime to $12,000, a significant boost from the current payout of $2,000. 4. Redford to D.C. Alberta Premier Alison Redford is heading to Washington, D.C., where she’s expected to promote her province’s record on the environment.

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