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John Baird rules out running for Conservative leadership

Former foreign affairs minister defends decision to end diplomatic relations with Iran
WATCH: (Feb. 7, 2020) Former foreign affairs minister defends decision to end diplomatic relations with Iran.

Former federal Conservative cabinet minister John Baird has ruled out running for the party’s leadership.

He made the announcement in a series of tweets on Thursday evening, two weeks before the deadline for candidates to join the race.

Baird said he wanted to “provide some clarity” on the issue.

“I sincerely appreciate all the emails, phone calls, and offers of time and energy,” he said just after 6 p.m.

“When I left politics after 20 years of elected office, I committed myself to an equally rewarding career in the private sector. I am incredibly happy with my post-political life and enjoy my work.”

READ MORE: John Baird weighing Conservative leadership run, says party must be ‘modern’

Last week, Baird told Global News he had been taking calls and “weighing his options” with respect to the contest to replace Andrew Scheer.

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney had called on Baird to join the race.

“I really appreciate the comments made by Premier Kenney,” Baird told Mercedes Stephenson on The West Block.

“He’s doing a phenomenal job in the province of Alberta and was a good friend and colleague when we served together in Ottawa.”

READ MORE: Here’s an updated list of potential Conservative leadership candidates

The Conservative leadership contest is taking place on June 27 in Toronto.

Former cabinet minister Peter MacKay and current MPs Marilyn Gladu and Erin O’Toole are among those looking to replace Scheer.

Baird is the latest in a series of high-profile Tories who have decided against pursuing the leadership, including Rona Ambrose and Pierre Poilievre, as well as former Quebec premier Jean Charest.

He served in former prime minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet as foreign affairs minister, among other roles. According to a bio on his website, Baird is currently a senior business advisor with the law firm Bennett Jones LLP.

Baird led the Conservative Party’s internal review of the 2019 election campaign that saw the Liberals re-elected to a minority government.

Scheer, who became Tory leader in 2017, said in December he would be stepping down once a new leader was chosen. The announcement came after weeks of speculation about his political future.

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