Foreign Affairs Minister resignation catches Canadians by surprise

Baird quits day after saying release of Canadian journalist from Egyptian jail was 'imminent.'

Baird quits day after saying release of Canadian journalist from Egyptian jail was 'imminent.'

TRENTION - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird resigned Tuesday, one day after he said the release of jailed Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy in Egypt was “imminent.”

It is expected that International Trade Minister Ed Fast will assume Baird’s former role while Prime Minister Stephen Harper mulls over a permanent replacement.

Sources told local media that Baird had being thinking about resigning for months because he had a job waiting in the private sector, as well as a seat on some corporate boards. Somehow his intentions were leaked, accelerating the process and resulting in his resignation Tuesday.

Baird said his departure has nothing to do with differences in politics and he fully supports Harper. He served in Harper’s cabinet since 2006.

“I believe in this prime minister,” he told the House of Commons, Tuesday. “And I continue to believe (in) him all these years later. He is one of our great leaders.”

But after almost 20 years in politics – a decade in provincial politics in Ontario and then nine years in the federal government – the 45-year-old wanted change.

“The time has come to start a new chapter in my life,” Baird told the House of Commons, Tuesday. “I will miss this place very much and all the people in it.”

Baird received plaudits and applause from all three parties in the House of Commons.

Harper called Baird “one of the finest ministers that I have had the privilege of working with.”

In a statement, the prime minister summarized Baird’s accomplishments, “including introducing and successfully shepherding the new Federal Accountability Act through both houses of parliament, delivering some 12,000 infrastructure stimulus projects across the country during the global economic crisis when they were needed most, and most recently taking on the Ukraine and (ISIL) crises.” The Federal Accountability Act provides for conflict of interest rules, restrictions on election financing and measures respecting administrative transparency, oversight and accountability.

Baird had held the foreign affairs post since 2011.

He is expected to resign as a Member of Parliament within weeks, completing his exit from government.

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency