There was some puzzlement on both sides of the Altantic on Thursday (February 19) as Canada’s former Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird was present as the Queen participated in an official reopening of Canada’s High Commission in London.
Baird, who had resigned February 3 as foreign affairs minister, welcomed the Queen as she arrived at Canada House, was standing by her side as she unveiled a plaque for the occasion (which had his name as foreign affairs minister) and then accompanied her as she left.
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson was not in London for the ceremony. He was in the House of Commons.
Asked by an Official Opposition NDP MP during Question Period “Who is the actual Minister of Foreign Affairs?” Minister Nicholson spoke of the renovations to Canada House as an “enduring testament” to the relations between Canada and the United Kingdom. Then he added: “I am very proud that the member for OttawaWest-Nepean, a privy councillor, and an outstanding foreign affairs minister, was there to open to open this house, on behalf of Canada.”
A spokeswoman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry had earlier emailed that “Mr. Baird is a privy councillor, was a minister up until a few days ago, is a member of Parliament and spearheaded this project with High Commissioner Campbell. It is entirely appropriate that he represent the government at the event.”
A Canadian government press release mentions the presence of the former foreign affairs minister: “To mark the occasion, Mr. Baird announced on behalf of the Government of Canada that the building’s atrium—clad in Canadian hemlock and featuring red oak flooring—will be named The Queen Elizabeth Atrium.”
The press release also points out “Mr. Baird presented Her Majesty with a ceremonial key to the building, made of Canadian gold. The key is an updated version of one presented to King George V and Queen Mary in 1925.”
CBC News – John Baird makes surprise appearance at Canada House re-opening – here
Toronto Star – John Baird greets Queen in London as ‘foreign affairs minister’ – here
Canadian Government press release – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Queen of Canada, Officially Opens Renewed Canada House on Trafalgar Square – here