In this episode of the EdUp Canada podcast, host Michael Sangster talks with John Baird, former cabinet minister and senior member of the Conservative Party of Canada. They discuss the evolving demands of the labor market, the impact of geopolitics on large companies, and the importance of private delivery of education to meet labor needs. The conversation delves into personal anecdotes from Baird’s political career and his perspectives on the current political landscape, including his thoughts on Pierre Poilievre’s potential as a future Prime Minister. Baird also shares insights into his current roles in corporate Canada and reflects on the importance of problem-solving, communication, and mentorship in achieving lasting success. 

00:00 The Future of Work and Skills Development 

00:58 Introducing John Baird: A Journey from Politics to Private Sector 

01:58 John Baird’s Political Beginnings and Career Highlights 

02:56 The Importance of Keeping Politics Professional 

04:58 Navigating the Challenges of Corporate Canada 

06:25 Pierre Poilievre’s Leadership and Potential Impact 

10:54 The Importance of Civility in Politics 

13:09 Addressing the Crisis in International Education 

13:29 The Role of Career Colleges in Workforce Development 

19:10 John Baird’s Personal Insights and Mentorship 

23:21 Wrapping Up: Reflections and Future Directions 

John Baird is a Senior Advisor at Bennett Jones LLP and a former Senior Cabinet Minister in the Government of Canada. 

An instrumental figure in bilateral trade and investment relationships, Mr. Baird has played a leading role in the Canada-China dialogue and worked to build ties with ASEAN countries. In addition, Mr. Baird has worked closely with international leaders to strengthen security and economic ties with the United States and Middle Eastern countries. 

A native of Ottawa, Baird spent three terms as a Member of Parliament and four years as Foreign Minister. He also served as President of the Treasury Board, Minister of the 

Environment, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. In 2010, he was selected by Members of Parliament from all parties as Parliamentarian of the Year. Prior to entering federal politics, Mr. Baird spent ten years in the Ontario Legislature where he served as Minister of Community and Social Services, Minister of Energy, and Government House Leader. 

In addition to his work with Bennett Jones, Mr. Baird sits on the advisory board of Barrick Gold Corp., the corporate boards of Canadian Pacific Kansas City Limited (CPKC), Canfor Corporation (as Chair), the FWD Group and PineBridge Investments. He also serves as a Senior Advisor at Eurasia Group, a global political risk consultancy. 

Mr. Baird also volunteers his time with Community Living Ontario, an organization that 

supports individuals with developmental disabilities, and is a board member of the Friends of Israel Initiative. He holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Political Studies and an Honourary Doctorate of Law from Queen’s University at Kingston.