Author Topic: Academic: John Baird as next Minister of National Defence?  (Read 6972 times)

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I don’t normally follow Canadian politics closely enough to play the parlour game of predicting the winners and losers of the next cabinet shuffle, but sometimes you get a hunch worth wagering on, and this is one of those times. I’d bet a whole dollar that John Baird will be moved from the Department of Foreign Affairs to National Defence this summer.

Look at it from the prime minister’s standpoint. He needs a minister of defence who can weather the political storm that’s gathering around the department. Projected costs of the controversial F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will probably continue to rise, which is terrible news for the Tories, who have attempted to build their brand on fiscal discipline. As Postmedia’s Lee Berthiaume reported yesterday, however, even the enormous price tag on the F-35 acquisition is dwarfed by the government’s $35-billion shipbuilding plan, which is already behind schedule. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is too smart not to see the great political risks.

John Baird is the toughest minister in Harper’s lineup. Yet, the prime minister’s loyal consigliore has been over at the Department of Foreign Affairs doing … well, it’s not entirely clear what Baird has been doing. His big project – a new Office of Religious Freedom – has been delayed, but will presumably be launched very soon, liberating him to perform more challenging tasks elsewhere.

This would be reason enough for Baird to be considered a strong candidate for minister of defence, but there’s more: Harper seems to think a conflict with Iran is possible, and he surely knows the situation in Syria is unpredictable. If the prime minister believes there’s any chance that the Canadian Forces will go into action in the Middle East, he will want a rock-solid defence minister in place.

Now for the clincher: As foreign affairs minister, Baird has been following the Syrian and Iranian situations closely, and he has been the government’s chief interlocutor with Israel. He would need little preparation to dive into the job of defence minister. If anything, his appointment to the Department of National Defence would communicate continuity in Canadian foreign policy.

 So, who would replace Baird as foreign affairs minister? Well, that would require another bet – and one dollar is the most I’m willing to put into this game.
Canadian International Council blog, 12 Jun 12
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Offline Colin P

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Re: Academic: John Baird as next Minister of National Defence?
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2012, 10:56:40 »
Oh god no!!!!
He was a our Minister, nice enough guy to the staff but a micro-manager who's staff was a cluster. I remember getting called by the MO to see if a response to a letter we supplied to the MO a year ago was still valid as they were just "getting to it".  There was a huge sigh of relief when Chuck Strahal took over. Baird talents do not lend themselves to running a large organization and we were only 4700 employees.

Offline Remius

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Re: Academic: John Baird as next Minister of National Defence?
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2012, 11:08:10 »
Not so sure.  I always thought the Foreign Affairs portfolio to be the better one for a Minister.  Hobnobbing with other foreign dignataries on world affairs.  I'm not sure Baird would want, what might be percieved as  a demotion.  CF spending is being curtailed, we will be out of Afghanistan for good in a few years and I can see the government re-focus (it's doing this now) our foreign policy and flex different diplomatic muscles.  Baird should stay where he is.

I think the Cf will see, at least for the next little while a less flamboyant and way more bureaucratic version of what we have now in terms of the MND and the CDS as well.
Optio

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Re: Academic: John Baird as next Minister of National Defence?
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2012, 11:13:23 »
I generally like reading Roland Paris' material (the "academic" in the title), with the acceptance that his world-view is a bit further left than mine -- I guess that's to be expected since he's been to UofT, Cambridge, and Yale, while I've been to Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan....(plus some UN stuff, of which he'd likely approve   ;)  )

DND would be seen as a demotion after DFAIT, and Baird's grey man status is seen as a good thing within the PMO rather than cause for punishment. Nonetheless, Paris' main arguing point here seems predicated on the thesis that Canada will be going to war in Syria and/or Iran during his tenure as Minister.

Sorry; can't see it happening. Despite the OpEd hand-wringing, most of the world seems content to allow Syria to take itself out of Middle Eastern trouble-making, and Iran remains in the "too difficult a problem" pile.
There’s nothing more maddening than debating someone who doesn’t know history, doesn’t read books, and frames their myopia as virtue. The level of unapologetic conjecture I’ve encountered lately isn’t just frustrating, it’s retrogressive, unprecedented, and absolutely terrifying.
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Re: Academic: John Baird as next Minister of National Defence?
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2012, 11:22:56 »
However, there is the question:  If there is a cabinet shuffle this fall, do you leave the incumbent as MND and, if not, who gets the job?

There is an assumption that the CDS will soon retire; there's also talk that the Clerk will shuffle DMs soon, possibly including DND's.

If we change the CDS and DM, do you keep the same MND for continuity, or do you go for a clean sweep of the leadership?


For those who enjoy the incestuous Ottawa naval gazing game, it promises to be an interesting summer...
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Re: Academic: John Baird as next Minister of National Defence?
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2012, 11:25:30 »
Fantino will stay to ensure continuity.  I'm betting McKay is shuffled out.  He's too stained now.  Fresh blood to deal with the issues now.
Optio

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Re: Academic: John Baird as next Minister of National Defence?
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2012, 11:31:27 »
My  :2c:

We are not going to get involved in Syria.

The current MND will be shuffled out this fall. Perhaps Fantino becomes the new MND. Who knows?
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Re: Academic: John Baird as next Minister of National Defence?
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2012, 11:32:01 »
....the incestuous Ottawa naval gazing game...
Watching sailors in the Rideau Centre?   :whistle:
There’s nothing more maddening than debating someone who doesn’t know history, doesn’t read books, and frames their myopia as virtue. The level of unapologetic conjecture I’ve encountered lately isn’t just frustrating, it’s retrogressive, unprecedented, and absolutely terrifying.
~Chris Evans

Offline dapaterson

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Re: Academic: John Baird as next Minister of National Defence?
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2012, 11:58:48 »
...the incestuous Ottawa naval gazing game...

Watching sailors in the Rideau Centre?   :whistle:

Most of them at least get a room...


(and ACK to my typo)
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Re: Academic: John Baird as next Minister of National Defence?
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2012, 12:10:46 »
The current MND is still a big wheel in e Conservative Party ~ he leads the progressives and he has a national following; shuffling him is problematic, he would need a lateral move, not a demotion. I suspect he might like to go back to Foreign Affairs and who knows?, Baird might like the political/management challenge that DND poses; but swapping Baird and MacKay suggests that mistakes were made and Harper doesn't like hat image.

A MacKay/Nicholson swap is possible.

But, if dapaterson is correct and we are due for a new DM ~ overdue, in my opinion ~ then there is a good argument for leaving McKay in place, especially if DND is going to get a deputy who will really grip and manage the place (someone akin to Nixon in the 1970s and 80s or Fowler in the '80s and '90s). MacKay can provide a nice, calm public "face" for DND while a new DM tidies up.

My guess is that MacKay gets left in place until the F-35 situation settles to the Prime Minister's satisfaction.

 
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
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Re: Academic: John Baird as next Minister of National Defence?
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2012, 13:19:11 »
As much a Harper may dislike the F-35 fiasco, MacKay is wearing the issue. Best to leave it on his coat tails.

Lordy, don't let Fantino become other that  a boot licker for some minister....he would be a disaster in almost any portfolio as minister.

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Offline Kalatzi

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Re: Academic: John Baird as next Minister of National Defence?
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2012, 23:02:24 »
I think this move has fantastic potential.

I've been told that trying to argue with him is like carrying on a conversation with a brass band.

If, as many of the faithful here maintain,  the Harper Government is engaged in war with the loathed MSM, then, Voila, DND has just gained the  rhetorical equivalent of one, perhaps two, nuclear powered carrier battle groups, plus a B2, and one or two Minuteman ICBM's.

All this to ensure that any press that take DND to task, are flat, black and glow in the dark real good.

I was hoping that PM Harper could entice one of the Ford brothers.  but this is an excellent second choice. 

I have a hunch that his management style with underperformers will be similar to the South African Ambassador  in the first "Lethal Weapon" Movie.

Hint, Don' t stand on the carpert in front of his desk.
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Re: Academic: John Baird as next Minister of National Defence?
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2012, 20:48:55 »
Further to the shuffle rumours (ministers and deputies) we find this article which is reproduced, for information and without further comment, under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from the Ottawa Citizen:

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/Ottawa+mandarin+Richard+Dicerni+steps+down/6777915/story.html
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Top Ottawa mandarin Richard Dicerni steps down
 
By KATHRYN MAY, The Ottawa Citizen

June 13, 2012

OTTAWA — Industry Canada Deputy Minister Richard Dicerni announced his retirement Wednesday, creating a key opening in the senior ranks of the public service.

Dicerni, 63, who served four ministers in his six years in the Industry portfolio, told staff in a email that he was stepping down from the top post to retire, effective July 30.

He is one of the government’s most seasoned and experienced deputy ministers and his departure leaves a big hole that could lead to a shakeup of deputy minister ranks at a time when speculation is rife that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is going to shuffle his cabinet in July. Industry Minister Christian Paradis, besieged with questions over ethical violations, might be among those shuffled

Dicerni’s second-in-command is rising bureaucratic star Simon Kennedy, senior associate deputy minister, but many say it would be highly unusual for such a senior job to go to someone in a first deputy minister posting.

Dicerni led the department as it wrestled with thorny issues including the wireless spectrum auction, the bailout of the automakers, the hostile bid for Saskatchewan’s Potash Corporation, and copyright legislation. He was touted by some as a contender for Clerk of the Privy Council, the top bureaucratic post, before Wayne Wouters got the job. He was one of four deputy ministers who sat on the governance committee to decide which Canadian shipyards will share the $35-billion contract to build new ships for Canada’s navy and Coast Guard fleets.

The bilingual Dicerni came to the job with a long resume in both the public and private sectors over his nearly 40-year career. He was working as a consultant when he was appointed to the Industry Canada post under previous Privy Council Clerk Kevin Lynch, and hailed, at the time, as a needed bridge between government and business.

Dicerni began his career as an executive assistant to Liberal cabinet minister Robert Andras and first joined the federal public service in 1973 in the department of Manpower and Immigration. He joined the Ontario government in 1992 and was a deputy minister in the Mike Harris Conservative government in Ontario in the departments of Education, Intergovernmental Affairs, and Environment and Energy.

He later headed the Canadian Newspaper Association, then took over as acting president and chief executive of Ontario Power Generation, where he was one of the province’s highest-ranked bureaucrats. Finally, he worked as a consultant in corporate governance at Mercer Delta Canada before returning to the federal public service as a deputy minister of Industry. The government normally picks its deputy ministers from among the ranks of the bureaucracy.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline GAP

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Re: Academic: John Baird as next Minister of National Defence?
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2012, 08:16:24 »
Michael Den Tandt on a cabinet shuffle: Who’s getting the axe?
 Article Link
Michael Den Tandt, Postmedia News  Jun 19, 2012

“And what is so rare a day in June?” wrote the poet James Russell Lowell. “Then, if ever, come perfect days.” Except in Ottawa, where the fairest month is primarily a time to speculate about the entrails of power. Who’s up, who’s down and who’s out in the cabinet shuffle expected before the fall session?

This season, as in the past, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is holding his cards preternaturally close to his vest. However, he is expected to put a new face on the government beginning in early August with a deputy-minister shuffle, then continuing in late August or September at the ministerial level.

Conservative insiders expect this remix will be substantial, as the government seeks to re-calibrate following a first year in majority during which it was repeatedly buffeted by controversy, ministerial missteps and scandal. Though the final roster will remain known only to the PM and perhaps his wife and chief of staff until shortly before it is unveiled, a few names recur.

TOP DOGS

Jim Flaherty is not expected to budge from Finance, as he remains the mainstay of the Tories’ economics team. Three other names top Conservatives’ lists of senior ministers who’ve consistently outperformed and have earned their pick of jobs: Jason Kenney at Immigration, John Baird at Foreign Affairs and James Moore at Heritage.

Any one of these three could be airlifted into Defence to clean house there. The drawback would be that each is helping the government appreciably now in a key portfolio. Kenney is two-thirds of the way through his overhaul of immigration. Baird is hitting his stride as a foreign minister, having spent the better part of the past year outgrowing his old attack-dog persona. Moore has managed to ride herd on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation without a major upheaval — for a Conservative, a feat of ineffable dark magic.

RISING STARS

The acknowledged up-and-comers, in no particular order, are Chris Alexander, Ajax-Pickering; Michelle Rempel, Calgary-Centre-North; Candice Hoeppner, Portage-Lisgar; Kellie Leitch, Simcoe-Grey; and James Rajotte, Edmonton-Leduc.

Rempel is bright, a good communicator and holds Jim Prentice’s former seat. Leitch, a pediatric surgeon and frequent pinch-hitter in Question Period, holds the seat once held by Helena Guergis. Rajotte, respected in caucus and chair of the Commons finance committee, has long been deemed a shoo-in for promotion, but has been held back by the preponderance of strong Alberta MPs, including the PM, already in cabinet.

ON THE BANANA PEEL

Topping every Tory’s hit list is International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda, who deeply embarrassed the government after it was reported she’d stayed at a high-end hotel in London, England, last year, at taxpayers’ expense. Though Oda repaid more than $1,000 and apologized in the House of Commons, the taint of her $16 glass of orange juice and other lavish spending remains.

Oda’s defenders note she has long had a reputation as an effective manager. However, virtually no one expects her to survive this shuffle. Insiders point out that Alexander, a foreign policy expert and well-regarded former Canadian ambassador to Kabul, would be a tidy fit for Oda’s job, not only because of his background but because his riding abuts hers in Durham, Ont., fulfilling the need for regional representation.

As for Defence, here comes the broom. Both the minister, Peter MacKay, and the associate minister, Julian Fantino, are expected to move, while Chief of the Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk and Deputy Minister Robert Fonberg are believed to be considering retirement. Change at the top is deemed in Conservative circles to be both a managerial necessity and poetic justice, due to the disastrous, slow-bleed mess of the F-35 jet fighter procurement.

MacKay, still protected to some degree by his status as former leader of the old Progressive Conservatives, is expected to save face with a move to either Justice or Public Security. Fantino’s prospects are less clear. He was brought in last year to ride herd on the generals and sort out procurement and that has gone spectacularly badly. And he is a weak performer in the House. Likeliest candidate for taking on the portfolio? Rob Nicholson at Justice managed to steer through controversial tough-on-crime legislation, Bill C-10, while generally keeping out of trouble. Nicholson, insiders believe, may simply swap jobs with MacKay.
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