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Baird not sorry for supporting Israel

Canadian Foreign Minister says that Conservatives’ support is based on principle
By: Sammy Hudes
Published: December 28th, 2011 in News » World
John Baird

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird took a hard stance in various year-end interviews regarding the Conservative government’s foreign policy, as he refused to apologize for the government’s strong support of Israel.

Baird acknowledged that many decisions by the Conservatives have been unpopular both domestically and on the world stage, however this should not change the government’s policies.

“We don’t develop foreign policy to be popular around the world,” he told Postmedia News.

“Sometimes you’re alone saying something, and then a number of years later, it’s conventional wisdom.”

Baird emphasized that unlike previous Liberal governments, consensus building is not the Conservatives’ main priority at the UN.

“Stephen Harper said it and I’ve said it: ‘We don’t just go along to get along,’” he told the Canadian Press.

“There’s 194 countries in the world. I don’t agree with their foreign policy on everything. You know the Russian Foreign Minister? His job is to stand up for Russia. My job is to stand up for Canadian values and Canadian interests.”

Baird maintained that the Conservatives’ support of Israel is not unqualified, as many Muslim and Arab-Canadian groups have suggested.

“It’s a principled position,” he said.

“If you look at our position on Israel − in my riding we have 2,800 Jews and 11,500 Muslims and Arabs. We don’t do it for political gain; we do it because we think it’s right and we believe in it.”

Baird also spoke highly of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, calling him “probably the world’s quietest success story.”

“The security situation in the West Bank has improved immeasurably under his leadership,” said Baird.

“We’ve been working very closely with him on that with a lot of Canadian support. On the security side, their transparency and getting rid of corruption is a gigantic accomplishment for him and the Palestinian people. The economic growth rate has improved considerably, so it’s been good news.”

Baird said that he plans to visit Israel and the Palestinian Territories in early January of 2012.

Related articles: Canada, Israel, John Baird, Foreign Affairs, Foreign policy, Conservative government, Stephen Harper, Conservatives, Palestinian Territories, Salam Fayyad, West Bank
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