John Baird talks to The HeraldTuesday, June 3, 2014
Human rights big for Canada’s FM
Asked by the Herald about the priority given to human rights when they are not usually considered the trademark image of Conservative governments, Baird replied that he also considered them to be “Canadian values” — furthermore, they were an extremely fruitful part of bilateral ties with Argentina. Later in yesterday evening’s reception at the Canadian Embassy, Baird spoke at length to Mothers of Plaza de Mayo Founding Line leader Nora de Cortiñas, telling her how the story of the Mothers had inspired the world and stressing the importance of “memory.”
Since Canada’s previous Conservative government (1984-93) took the country into both NAFTA and the OAS, the Herald asked Baird about the Stephen Harper government’s hemispheric integration initiatives today. Baird replied that free trade agreements were sought everywhere at both regional and national levels — with countries on both sides of the Pacific, with the European Union and also with Mercosur. Trade and global issues were prominent in his talks with Timerman, he added.
While his formal agenda was limited to yesterday, Baird also spent the preceding weekend here appreciating the “architecture, culture and people” of Buenos Aires. Although only entering federal politics in 2006, he has been foreign minister for the past three years with previous posts in the environment and transport portfolios and as House whip.
Yesterday’s reception hosted by Canadian Ambassador Gwyneth Kutz was also attended by Auditor-General Leandro Despouy, Cortiñas, British Ambassador John Freeman and United States Chief of Mission Kevin Sullivan among others.