(JNS.org) Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, a strongly pro-Israel voice in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government, resigned on Tuesday.
“I will miss this place very much,” Baird said in a speech to the Canadian Parliament. “The time has come to start a new chapter in my life.”
During a visit to Israel last month, Baird blasted the International Criminal Court’s opening of a preliminary inquiry into possible Israeli “war crimes,” calling the move “deeply ironic, awards terror, and amounts to blasphemy against international law.” After Palestinian protesters threw eggs and shoes at Baird’s convoy in Ramallah, the Canadian diplomat said, “People may disagree with our position with respect to Israel, but so be it. … It’s always wise to speak with moral clarity.”
Baird was similarly defiant of critics of Canada’s pro-Israel foreign policy last May, telling an American Jewish Committee (AJC) audience, “We will not apologize for the positions we take because we stand for what is right.”
AJC Executive Director David Harris said in a statement, “All who are committed to upholding democratic values worldwide will miss [Baird’s] passion and determination. We at AJC have cherished his indefatigable defense of democratic values and human dignity, his steadfast support for Israel and the Jewish people, and his courage and principle in speaking the truth wherever and whenever it was needed.”
The reason for Baird’s resignation was not immediately clear. An anonymous Canadian official told The Associated Press that Baird simply decided it was the right time to step down.