Toronto: Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, head of Canadian diplomacy for the last four years, has resigned unexpectedly from his post after transforming the international image of his country.
During the last 10 years in the federal parliament, and the previous decade in the parliament of Ontario province, Baird was known by opponents and supporters as one of the "attack dogs" of the Conservative Party.
In the Canadian parliament Tuesday, Baird referred to his fierce partisanship and ideological zeal as excesses of his youth that he "quickly learned".
The departure of Baird, 45, from both the government and the Conservative Party leaves Prime Minister Stephen Harper without one of his most faithful and reliable supporters.
The unexpected and unexplained departure of Baird, along with the previously announced resignations of more than a dozen veteran Conservative members, increases the risk of the party losing elections this year.
Finding a substitute as capable as Baird and who understands Harper`s diplomatic tact on issues like Iran, the Middle East and Russia is going to be a difficult task for the prime minister.
At present, Harper has been forced to appoint International Trade Minister Ed Fast as the interim foreign minister.
Baird`s first portfolio in the Canadian government was as president of the treasury board, a powerful department responsible for the operation of the government and public officials.
In 2007, he was appointed as the environment minister, one of the most challenging portfolios for Harper, who before coming to power had described the Kyoto Protocol on global warming as a "Socialist scheme" and, once in power, refused to accept climate change for years.
But it was from his position as foreign minister since 2011 that he materialised the political ideology of Harper better and the Conservative movement in western Canada, viscerally opposed to the philosophy of former liberal Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau.
Baird imposed a harsh policy against Iran, a country that he described as the greatest "threat to the rest of the world", by closing the Canadian embassy in Tehran.
Russia also became one of his favourite targets of attack and on numerous occasions called Moscow and President Vladimir Putin "evil" on a par with Hitler`s regime, especially since the outbreak of the Ukraine conflict.
He also criticised the anti-homosexual policies of African countries, Iran and Russia, while ignoring abuses committed against the same community by Canadian allies such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.