Former Conservative minister John Baird sought to clear the air on Monday morning after several hours of speculation surrounding his plans to return to political life.
In a release issued around 10:15 a.m. ET, Baird said that he was “tremendously flattered by the support,” but contrary to a report published in Monday’s Globe and Mail, he will not be seeking to lead the Conservative Party of Canada.
He also issued a tweet saying the same thing.
“When I retired from politics, I spoke about starting a new chapter in my life,” Baird wrote in his formal statement.
“I am extremely happy with this new chapter and will remain dedicated to my work in the private sector.”
Baird said he would not be offering further comment on the matter.
The Globe and Mail report quoted Chris Froggatt, a friend and former chief of staff to Baird, who told a reporter that a month ago, Baird would have dismissed the idea of seeking to replace Stephen Harper, but “I think now it is something he is strongly considering.”
Baird resigned in February and quickly took a series of jobs in the private sector. His 20-year career in federal and provincial politics saw him posted to some of the most senior cabinet positions in the Harper government, and he was considered one of Harper’s strongest allies and a trusted political lieutenant.
The Conservatives are currently searching for an interim leader, and a special committee has been formed to set the rules for an upcoming leadership race. The party hasn’t had to elect a leader since 2003, when it was formed.