John Baird has become of a late, a well known figure on the political stage; as Stephen Harper’s enforcer and mouthpiece on issues that have proven volatile for the new Conservative Party. His best attributes for such a position are his knack for never backing down, even when proven wrong; a vicious streak that members of his own party often find unnerving, and the ability to spin any negative policy into something that at least sounds positive; until viewed in the light of the day.
He has a growing list of enemies, which I think he rather enjoys; and his obvious love of theatrics, make him often seem petty and rather childish. A former colleague, Garth Turner, says that Baird “has become a caricature of himself” and many find it hard to take him seriously. In fact, he continues: “MPs often laugh when he stands up, in anticipation of the instant outrage he can manufacture”. (We all remember the ‘yelly man’ spoof on The Mercer Report).
My own personal dislike of Mr. Baird began when he was one of the henchmen in the Mike Harris Ontario Conservative government. Initially, the mass program cuts met with approval, until we learned that the savings went into the pockets of Harris and his buddies... but more on that later.
I think we can all agree that John Baird is an easy man to dislike. Because of this, people will often pick apart even the slightest indiscretion, so that when we constantly hear the mundane, we may not truly understand just what a dangerous man Mr. Baird really is. An all round buffoon, he is the epitome of what happens when corruption, neo-conservatism and too much power unite.
As with any public figure, the media will stop at nothing to find the juiciest tidbits, and Baird is no exception. Rumours have always circulated, but his prominent position fuels the wagging tongues and you just can't get away from it. Therefore, I have listed some of the most common, that have little, if anything, to do with John Baird the politician.
Rumours and Innuendo
1. John Baird is Gay. This rumour has been floating around for years and recently Frank Magazine featured an interview with one of his 'former lovers'. Who cares? This is only a problem within his own Party, which is still predominantly from the old Reform/Alliance who are also mostly Christian fundamentalists, and believe that homo-sexuality is a sin.
For example: Garry Breitkreuz, Conservative MP for Yorkton-Melville Sask. once accused the federal (then Liberal) government of pandering to homosexuals. "In the 1950s buggery was a criminal offense," he said. "Now it's a requirement to receive benefits from the federal government."
Maurice Vellacott, the Conservative MP for the Saskatchewan-Wanuskewin riding, marches in anti-gay parades and once mailed out a pamphlet opposing the inclusion of sexual orientation as a protected category under Canada's hate crimes legislation. Vellacott wrote that the policy change "substantially interferes with the right of religious and education leaders to communicate essential matters of faith." (i.e.: the belief that homo-sexuality is a perversion and a sin).
Another Conservative Saskatchewan MP, Tom Lukiwski of the Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre riding, was in the news recently when an old video of him surfaced, celebrating an electoral victory. "There's As and there's Bs," Lukiwski says on the tape. "The As are guys like me, the Bs are homosexual faggots with dirt under their fingernails that transmit diseases."
In fact, if you peruse the list of Harper’s caucus you will find many similar views.However, the criticism I find most common with regards to Baird’s sexual orientation, is not so much that he’s gay, but that he should come out of the closet.
This might in fact help the new Conservatives who are considered intolerant, but I feel it’s a personal choice. Besides, former Progressive Conservative Scott Brison, learned the hard way what it meant to be openly gay in the new Conservative Party. On December 10, 2003, Just four days after voting in favour of the PCs merging with the Canadian Alliance, he announced that he would cross the floor to the Liberals, citing the dominance of former members of the more socially conservative Canadian Alliance, who ridiculed or ignored their new colleague.
I really admire Mr. Brison for saying that he is "not a gay politician, but a politician who happens to be gay." (He and his long term partner were married in August of 2007.)Could this be why Baird remains closeted? Who knows? Who cares?
2. Baird Opposes Family Values - This statement is popular among Tory bloggers and on social conservative websites. There are two main reasons for this. The first was when he was in the Ontario Legislature and helped Premier Ernie Eves change the law recognizing Same Sex Marriage. But the second and strongest anti-Baird sentiment came about when he was chosen as the federal Conservative candidate in his Ottawa riding; over pro-life, anti-SSM activist John Pecheco.
Mr. Pacheco had organized a march on Parliament Hill, in defense of ‘traditional marriage’ and to oppose Paul Martin’s Bill C-38 (that legalized SSM in Canada). Guest speakers included Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney and Stockwell Day, who were all in agreement that ‘the uniqueness of marriage was between one man and one woman.’
“OTTAWA, April 29, 2005 - John Pacheco, the principal organizer of the largest rally in the country in defense of traditional marriage in Ottawa only three weeks ago has been rejected as a possible Conservative candidate for the Ottawa West riding. The stunning development has left social conservatives within the party scratching their heads. Pacheco, working with life, faith and family groups drew over 15,000 people to rally for traditional marriage on Parliament Hill on April 9."The central issue in the decision seems to have been the marriage issue.
"The Conservative Party and its leader have made little secret that the Party favours candidate John Baird, a Member of Provincial Parliament for the Tories who is willing to leave provincial politics to run federally. Baird, however, is a staunch proponent of homosexual 'marriage'."In the provincial legislature Baird spoke in favour of a provincial gay marriage law striking the words "husband" and "wife" from all Ontario legislation. "
In the legislature, Baird went so far as to heckle one of his provincial Conservative colleagues who opposed the gay marriage law."Opposition also came from within Baird’s own party. Maurice Vellacott, mentioned above, once wrote an editorial arguing that marriage should be restricted to a man and a woman because of the need to have and raise children. He wrote that "homosexuals already have the right to marry, providing that — like everybody else — they marry someone of the opposite sex." He also opposed spousal benefits for same-sex couples, saying supporters of the initiative were "activist liberal judges and a small but aggressive homosexual lobby."
Harold Albrecht, Conservative MP for Kitchener-Conestoga, was bitterly opposed to same-sex marriage when he was the pastor of a Kitchener church and in a letter to a local paper in 2003 he wrote that same-sex unions "would succeed in wiping out an entire society in just one generation. Marriage is God's idea, not man's, therefore, He alone has the authority to redefine it." Kudos to Baird for not changing his views to reflect those of the Party.
3. John Baird is Dating Laureen Harper - Did I mention he’s gay? The two are spotted frequently at functions when the PM is away , so Baird has become the other man in Laureen Harper's life. "I love John," she says. "He is a great guy, he is fun to be around, he looks good in a tux and he is a great date. He is also a lover of felines."
I’m sure this rattles the cages of members of his Party, motivated no doubt by jealousy, but come on. Who cares? Besides, the most important reason why Baird is given this task, is no doubt to monitor what the PM's wife is saying. Even Tom Flanagan, Harper's right-hand bigot states that they do not let Laureen speak freely. She is an avid supporter of gun owners and as a former activist for the Reformers, you can only imagine her other views on other things.
4. Baird Was Once Arrested - In 1988, Baird was charged with trespassing, after trying to question Ontario Premier David Peterson during a Liberal campaign stop in a Kingston shopping mall. (While attending Queen’s University, Baird was president of the campus wing of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party). He has engaged in so much criminal activity since that time, that I don’t even know why it’s mentioned. Now if he’d stolen some lingerie from a store at a Kingston shopping center, that might be different, but come on. Who cares?
5. John Baird is an Insensitive Pig - I can’t really argue with that, but in his defense the incidents cited are a stretch, though perhaps not appropriate for a politician. For instance, following the SARS outbreak in Ontario, Baird mockingly coughed while entering a media scrum. After a journalist quipped that the government's new communications strategy was "to give the media SARS" Baird deadpanned: "I enjoyed my trip to Asia." Personally, I appreciate irreverent humour, but then I’m not running for political office.
6. John Baird is a Vegetarian - Really. I'm not kidding. Apparently, he's been spotted eating at a Vegetarian Restaurant. It's been suggested that he doesn't go public with this because he doesn't want to upset the Alberta Beef Wing. Unless this is a euphemism for his homosexuality, it's absolutely ridiculous. Besides, he's not a vegetarian, because he says that he eats chicken and fish (and is often seen eating crow). His healthy food choice, he claims is more about weight control and the fact that his own father had a heart attack.
I dislike John Baird for a great many reasons; just not any of the above.
More Postings on Johna Baird:
1. The Chickens Have Come Home to Roost
2. John Baird Starring in No Streetcars of Your Desire
3. Butt-Head Baird Butting Heads With Civil Servants
4. John Baird Goes to Great Lengths to Cover Up for Lisa Raitt
5. Conservative John Baird Tells Toronto to Flick Off
6. John Baird Scoffs at Accountability and Appoints Friends
7. How John Baird Railroaded the City of Ottawa
8. John Baird to Auction Off Accountability Act on Ebay
9. John Baird Had Promised to Replace Accountability with Corruption. Man Did he Keep His Promise.
10. Why is John Baird Defending the Torture of Afghan Prisoners?
11. What is John Baird Hiding and Does he Really Believe We Won't Find it?
12. 'Enron John' and Why John Baird's Accounting Mess Should Not be a Surprise
13. John Baird's Silencing of Scientists Was Only Stage One