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John Baird: In defence of 'what is right'
Canada's foreign minister explains why and how the country's stance is shifting on key foreign policy issues.
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2012 11:40

Canada's leaders on the global arena are no longer ready to let others take the lead. Instead, Canada under Prime Minister Stephen Harper is liberating itself from the firm grip of "moral relativism" - in the words of John Baird, the Canadian foreign minister.

After the last election, the country is now in the process of what has been described as the most dramatic shift in post-war Canadian foreign policy history.

Baird, the man leading the foreign policy charge, is taking a strong public stand for what he calls Canadian principles of "what is right and what is wrong":

"Canada does not go along in order to get along. We will go along only if we go in a direction that advances Canada's values. We take our position based on Canadian values, based on Canadian interests and what we believe is right. We have seen people in the past administrations who would define Canadian foreign policy as whatever the international consensus was, and that is not good enough, we should take policy decisions based on what is right."

The steps Baird is taking with conservative PM Harper raises eyebrows both at home and abroad. While his policy of moral clarity encompasses staunch support of Israel and hardened rhetoric against Iran, it does not extend to a clear condemnation of Israeli settlement and occupation. And this is leading critics to ask to what extent Canada's foreign policy is under the influence of a conservative Jewish and Christian agenda.

"I'm the one who speaks for the government as does the prime minister and I couldn't be clearer, those motivations are not...have never been discussed at the cabinet table. I can't be clearer than that," Baird says.

Today on Talk to Al Jazeera presenter Sami Zeidan talks to Baird about the situation in Syria, the Iranian nuclear threat and the Palestinian-Israeli struggle. Has Canada's foreign policy shifted to be more in favour of Israel rather than playing a balanced approach?

Baird says: "With regard to Israel we are good friends and a strong ally and we do not apologise for that, at the same time we are a strong supporter of the Palestinian Authority, we are a leading financial contributor in development assistance, and we want to see a peace negotiated between the two parties. If you look at the violence that the state of Israel has faced from Hezbollah from Hamas, that’s deeply concerning, and we are not going to take a balanced and honest approach when it comes to two international terrorist organisations and a fellow liberal democracy."

 

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Al Jazeera
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