They say a week is an eternity in politics. The change in the senior ranks of our Cabinet certainly illustrated that theory this week with the departure of one of our government’s strongest assets: John Baird.
I have had the pleasure of serving alongside the Honourable John Baird since he joined our Caucus and we formed government in 2006. I can recount many stories involving him ranging from serious crisis situations to ones full of jokes and laughter. John is a man of many talents, skills, charm and successes. He can easily be described as anything but dull or boring.
At a national level, John Baird has become a household name across the country as current events are discussed at kitchen tables and boardrooms across Canada. However, here in Eastern Ontario, our riding of SDSG had the unique opportunity of having Minister Baird serve as the lead Minister responsible for our region.
John made several visits to our riding and was always well received by constituents, local media, businesses and non-profit organizations. I have come to know him on a more personal basis and got to see him excel first hand is his many important Cabinet roles.
I first met John in 2003 when he was a provincial Cabinet Minister and I was General Manager of an agricultural processing plant. Our working relationship has now come full circle and I have truly enjoyed working with him for almost the past decade.
Together, with John’s help, we were able to provide funds to see over $250 million in local projects come to fruition.
For the City of Cornwall, John helped us deliver assistance for the Benson Centre ($34 million), the waste water treatment plant ($56 million), the new Seaway International Bridge ($75 million) and the new EMS Headquarters for the City and United Counties of SD&G ($5 million).
John helped me immensely secure federal funding for countless projects in the rural part of our community as well. For example, whether it was upgrades and repairs to numerous SD&G local roads, the $10 million sewage treatment plant in Iroquois, big multi-million dollar water treatment plants in South Stormont and South Dundas, and approval for the Chesterville Waterfront beautification, John always made time to work on our priorities and I am most grateful to him for that.
Without a doubt, John Baird has been a smart, savvy public leader who is well respected by politicians of all ideologies in the House of Commons. His surprise resignation to enjoy private life is certainly a loss for Canada, but is well deserved after twenty years of dedicated public service.
Our riding, our province, and our country are better off for his efforts. I’m proud to call John a loyal and kind friend and wish him all the best in the next chapter of his life.
MP, Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry