Friday, June 12, 2009

TOUCHDOWN: BAIRD DOES IT RIGHT


Contrast Lisa Raitt’s experience to that of her colleague, federal Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Minister John Baird, who also found himself in hot water this week over a remark which became unintentionally public. Baird was also chatting with an aide, venting frustration with the City of Toronto over the way it has handled requests for transit funding, when he mistakenly walked – in the middle of an expletive-laden sentence – into the media room at a Whistler, B.C. conference of Canadian municipalities. But unlike Raitt, Baird did two important things: he acknowledged, when read back his words by a reporter, that he had in fact said what he said; and then in his first appearance back in the House of Commons, he offered a full apology. “I was speaking out of frustration, and I certainly expressed that,” he said, noting that he had called Toronto Mayor David Miller that morning to personally apologize. After that, it was all about moving forward positively, a high-road approached echoed by Miller as well in his subsequent comments on the matter. A plausible explanation, a sincere apology, and the matter was quickly put in the past. Sure, Baird’s temper and stance regarding Toronto will be oft-referenced on into the future, but in terms of his approach to damage control in the immediate term, that’s the way it’s done.

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