Ex-min­is­ter Baird opts to stay out of Tory race

Calgary Herald - - CANADA -

OT­TAWA For­mer Con­ser­va­tive cab­i­net min­is­ter John Baird says he’s not run­ning to lead the fed­eral Con­ser­va­tive party.

“I sin­cerely ap­pre­ci­ate all the emails, phone calls and of­fers of time and en­ergy,” he tweeted Thurs­day even­ing. “When I left pol­i­tics af­ter 20 years of elected of­fice, I com­mit­ted my­self to an equally re­ward­ing ca­reer in the pri­vate sec­tor. I am in­cred­i­bly happy with my post-po­lit­i­cal life and en­joy my work.”

So, he wrote, “I want to pro­vide some clar­ity that I will not be stand­ing for leader of the Con­ser­va­tive Party of Canada.”

His an­nounce­ment puts an end to days of spec­u­la­tion that he might en­ter the race, talk that be­gan late last month af­ter both cur­rent MP Pierre Poilievre and for­mer in­terim party leader Rona Am­brose de­cided not to run.

Baird had been poised to run Poilievre’s cam­paign, but Poilievre dropped out last month, say­ing his heart wasn’t in it.

The ab­sence of what some in the party feel is a “true blue” voice in the con­test — a role some saw as be­long­ing to ei­ther Poilievre or Am­brose — put pres­sure on Baird to join.

His de­ci­sion not to leave his life in the pri­vate sec­tor will likely be a re­lief for the only other two can­di­dates of­fi­cially reg­is­tered to run so far: his for­mer cab­i­net col­leagues Peter Mackay and Erin O’toole.

Baird, 51, has been in­volved in pol­i­tics since his teens. He par­layed a pre­co­cious ca­reer in Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive ac­tivism to a spot as a mem­ber of On­tario’s pro­vin­cial par­lia­ment, rep­re­sent­ing an Ot­tawa rid­ing, and spent 10 years in the leg­is­la­ture.

He be­came a fed­eral MP in 2006 and went on to serve in four dif­fer­ent cab­i­net port­fo­lios un­der the Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment led by Stephen Harper, in­clud­ing four years as for­eign af­fairs min­is­ter.

He left pol­i­tics in 2015. He is a business ad­viser at Ben­nett Jones, a ma­jor law firm, and sits on sev­eral cor­po­rate boards.

Po­ten­tial lead­er­ship can­di­dates have un­til Feb. 27 to en­ter the race, and Con­ser­va­tives are to choose their new leader June 27.

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