Politics

John Baird's decade in federal politics: 13 quotes to remember

With John Baird's exit, Canadian politics loses one of its most colourful and quotable ministers. As one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's most loyal foot soldiers packs his tent, we revisit his rhetorical run.

Resigning foreign affairs minister was anything but, as the Hill loses one of its most quotable MPs

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      With John Baird's exit, Parliament Hill loses one of its most colourful and quotable ministers. 

      As one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's most loyal foot soldiers packs his tent and leaves public office, let's revisit the rhetorical run of the man known by some as "Rusty":

      Defending the Accountability Act in the House of Commons (and mis-speaking):

      "Let us replace darkness with light. Let us replace accountability with corruption." - June 20, 2006

      Explaining the Harper government's decision to cut the Court Challenges Program, which funded litigation in the name of equal rights:

      "I just don't think it made sense for the government to subsidize lawyers to challenge the government's own laws in court." - Sept. 25, 2006

      Shooting down the idea of a carbon tax or "cap and trade" as ways of dealing with greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, under questioning at committee from Liberal critic David McGuinty:

      "We don't sit around the cabinet table dreaming up ways to increase taxes. That's certainly more common in the McGuinty family than in the Harper cabinet." - Feb. 8, 2007

      Few ministers in Stephen Harper's government could match John Baird's ability to deliver both a cutting blow and a sharp wit. (Hasan Jamali/Associated Press)

      Justifying his decision to withhold federal funding for Ottawa's light rail transit in the middle of a municipal election campaign, amid charges of inappropriate political interference:

      "If you want to avert a billion-dollar boondoggle, you have to make some difficult decisions." - Feb. 6, 2008

      Telling CBC Newsworld's Don Newman why Stephen Harper's minority government needed to prorogue Parliament mere weeks after a general election, rather than face a non-confidence vote brought by a coalition of opposition parties unhappy with its economic strategy:

      "I think what we want to do is basically take a time out, go over the heads of the members of Parliament, go over the heads frankly of the Governor General and go right to the Canadian people..." - Dec. 4, 2008

      Texting, setting off a frenzy of international fact-checking until it was confirmed that the minister was, in fact, talking about the pet cat he'd named after his political hero:

      "Thatcher has died." - Feb. 10, 2009

      Harassing Liberal committee chair Yasmin Ratansi, after showing up unannounced with two other ministers at a meeting where their staff were to be questioned in the Rahim Jaffer conflict of interest affair:

      "I never said I was a witness... I'm here to answer any and all questions and be accountable as a minister." - Commons government operations committee, June 2, 2010

      Responding to the Liberal and NDP opposition's plans to defeat a private member's bill to repeal the long gun registry:

      "We're all accountable. If we make clear and unambiguous promises in our constituencies and then face pressure from Toronto elites, [MPs are] accountable for that." - Sept. 16, 2010

      Commenting on student flash mobs popping up during the general election campaign, encouraging young people to vote:

      "I'm not sure we want flash mobs. I don't know what a flash mob is. It sounds a bit disconcerting... I don't like the context of either word." - April 5, 2011

      Describing the Harper government's approach to foreign policy, during his first United Nations General Assembly:

      "Canada does not just 'go along' in order to 'get along.' We will 'go along,' only if we 'go' in a direction that advances Canada’s values: freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law." - Sept. 26, 2011

      Replying to Liberal critic Scott Brison, who asked why Conservatives were giving each other "golden showers" in reference to Baird's gold-embossed business cards, contrary to Treasury Board policy: 

      "I sat down with the president of the Treasury Board [Tony Clement] and said 'Have I got a deal for you. I'll give you $50 million of infrastructure funds if you'll give me $400 worth of business cards.'" - Sept. 30, 2011

      Replying in question period to New Democrat Pat Martin, who asked what Canada is doing to prevent a zombie apocalypse:

      "I am dead-icated to ensuring that this never happens. I want to say categorically to this member and through him to all Canadians that under the leadership of this Prime Minister Canada will never become a safe haven for zombies, ever! ... If there is a zombie attack, Canadians need to be well prepared. They should stock up on first aid kits, monster trucks, canned food and water... And I am not going to stand in this place and not warn Canadians that if the NDP had its way, Canadians would have to pay a carbon tax on each and every one of those." - Feb. 13, 2013

      Joking with Ottawa Centre MP (and NDP foreign affairs critic) Paul Dewar about being his constituent, after flooding at his house forced him to seek temporary accommodations downtown:

      "You work for me. Remember that!" - Jan. 29, 2015

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