Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, right, and Canadian Ambassador to Libya Sandra McCardell, left, visit the former fortified compound of Moammar Gadhafi in Bab al-Azizya in Tripoli, Libya on Tuesday, October 11, 2011. Sean Kilpatrick
A quick yet physically gruelling trip to Benghazi in June, 2011, was John Baird’s first diplomatic foray beyond the summit circuit after becoming Minister of Foreign Affairs.
His main message, delivered to rebels as a bombing campaign continued across the country, was that Canada's engagement in Libya was not just about attacking dictator Moammar Gadhafi's forces. Rather, it was also about using diplomatic channels to promote human rights and democracy.
Mr. Baird returned to Libya, visiting Tripoli in October, 2011, to discuss the country’s transition after Col. Gadhafi’s ouster.
Foreign Minister John Baird, left, is greeted by his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi during his visit to China's Foreign Ministry office in Beijing, China, Monday, July 18, 2011. Andy Wong
In July, 2011, Mr. Baird visited China, continuing the Conservatives’ push to improve a strained relationship with Beijing.
After winning office in 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he wouldn't sell out Canadians’ relations with China for the “almighty dollar.” The Tories also speculated about Chinese corporate espionage, and bestowed Canadian citizenship on the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan leader who is despised and outlawed by China's communist leadership.
Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Ottawa in the summer of 2010 helped reset the relationship, and Mr. Baird’s trip the following year was aimed at establishing better ties.
Though the Tories were accused of sacrificing the promotion of human rights for economic benefit, Mr. Baird emerged from the trip hailing a ‘new era’ with China.
But human rights remain an issue. Mr. Baird made headlines again in January, 2012, slamming China for “abhorrent” treatment of minorities ahead of Mr. Harper’s visit to Beijing.
Mr. Baird returned to China and parts of Southeast Asia in July, 2012.
Displaying loyalty to their respective hockey teams, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton holds a New York Rangers NHL Hockey jersey as Foreign Minister John Baird holds an Ottawa Senators jersey following a meeting of the G8 foreign ministers at Blair House in Washington, Thursday, April 12, 2012. J. Scott Applewhite
In August, 2011, Mr. Baird met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to talk Syria, Libya and the Mideast peace process in the pair’s first formal bilateral meeting.
The global economy was another hot topic, as was the Shared Border Vision initiative and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Though Mr. Baird painted Canada as a more ethical source of oil (“...if they buy oil from Canada they don't have to buy it from Gadhafi”), Ms. Clinton was exceedingly cautious in discussing the pipeline, a source said.
But it’s not always shop talk between Canada and the U.S. At a G8 meeting in April, 2012, Mr. Baird and Ms. Clinton bet on the Stanley Cup playoffs - Mr. Baird backing the Ottawa Senators and his U.S. counterpart rooting for the New York Rangers.
Mr. Baird lost the wager, and had to don a New York jersey.
Foreign Minister John Baird takes part at a panel discussion during the Herziliya Conference. Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012, in Herzliya, Israel. Dan Balilty
In a speech during his trip to Israel this winter, Mr. Baird announced that the country had no better friend than Canada.
Ottawa’s shift in tone was obvious even before the visit in late January and early February, with Canada opposing the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN.
In Jerusalem, Mr. Baird threw Canada’s support behind Israel, calling on Palestinians to resist “temptations to apply preconditions to talks.”
He also introduced his teacher, Rabbi Chaim Mendelsohn - a Chabad emissary based in Ottawa. Chabad is an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic movement, and many in the secular or mildly religious groups who saw Mr. Baird were uncomfortable with the rabbi’s presence.
Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Foreign Minister John Baird exit Suu Kyi's home after their meeting in Yangon March 8, 2012. Soe Zeya Tun
In March, Mr. Baird became the first Canadian foreign minister to visit Myanmar, signalling Ottawa’s support for democratic reform in the southeast Asian country.
His visit came after a number of small changes in Ottawa: Mr. Baird had met his Myanmar counterpart the previous summer at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting and Canadian officials began to meet more often with Myanmar’s ambassador. President Thein Sein promised reforms in his inaugural speech and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was allowed to run in the country’s by-elections.
In April, Canada lifted many of the sanctions imposed on Myanmar. In July, Mr. Baird announced that an embassy will open in the country.
Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati (R) meets Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird at the government palace in Beirut August 10, 2012. Dalati Nohra/Handout
Mr. Baird arrived in the Mideast on Aug.10, aiming to show Canada's support for countries flooded with refugees as the crisis in Syria continues.
Mr. Baird will visit Lebanon and Jordan, and it's expected he will announce new financial assistance to help the two countries deal with the wave of displaced people. He is slated to see Jordan's first official Syrian refugee camp Saturday.
Mr. Baird’s visit could also bolster Canads's image in the Mideast, where some governments have been alienated by the Tories' support for Israel.