Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird pauses while speaking to journalists following a meeting with Syrian-Canadian representatives and members of the Syria's opposition in Ottawa July 25, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Chris Wattie
While foreign intelligence, unlike military intelligence, is rarely maligned as being an oxymoron, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird's abrupt turnaround on sending medical supplies to Syria via a Canadian aid group may alter that assessment.
Flip-flopping, after all, is not a Baird trait.
Yet, within days of jetting to Jordan to announce Canada was giving $2 million to an outfit called Canadian Relief for Syria to get critically-needed medical supplies into the country, there was Baird suddenly pulling the plug on that organization, stating "alternate" means would now ensure its delivery.
And why was that?
"We wanted to ensure that supplies could make their way to the victims of the Assad regime in the best way possible," said Baird, "and that it wouldn't fund things like warehouses and infrastructure."
We suspect Baird's abrupt reversal may have more to do with a number of media reports linking Canadian Relief for Syria to a charity office in Pakistan that was once headed by the late Ahmed Said Khadr, gunned down years ago during a firefight with the Pakistani forces.
Now there's a name that should have rung a distinctive bell at Ottawa's Foreign Affairs headquarters, since Ahmed Said Khadr was none other than the al-Qaida terrorist who fathered our left-wing media's current cause celebre, Omar Khadr of Guantanamo Bay.
While we trust those responsible for vetting aid agencies were read the riot act, this embarrassing incident dramatically underscores the complexity of separating the good guys from the bad in the murk of despair that is the Middle East.
Even if the Khadr connection is more vague than substantial, optics in politics invariably become the reality.
That said, Baird can blame former Liberal PM Jean Chretien, and foreign affairs operatives under his tenure, for not doing their own due diligence back in 1996.
For it was Chretien, after all, who convinced Pakistan's then prime minister Benazir Bhutto that Ahmed Khadr was nothing more than a Canadian relief worker, and not the bomber in a deadly explosion at the Egyptian embassy that killed 16 people.
It was this "intelligence" that set him free.
Surely there must have been a file.