Prior to leaving, Baird's spokesman said "he [would] use this opportunity to press the need for economic liberalization and respect for human rights."
One columnist in Canada appropriately asked, "human rights organizations in Cuba and abroad have reported an increase in the number of arbitrary detentions for political reasons over the past year (up to more than a thousand a month). Shouldn't our government condemn that publicly, and depart from a long bipartisan policy of silence on Cuba?"
Well, John Baird went to Cuba, and did exactly that.
He met with Castro regime officials to discuss tourism, natural resources and mining investments -- then quietly got on the plane and left.
Baird didn't have the decency to meet with a single pro-democracy activist, not The Ladies in White, not independent journalists, not bloggers. Nada.
It's not that he didn't have time to meet with anyone. After all, the Venezuelan government cancelled his visit there, which was scheduled after the Havana stop.
He didn't do it because he didn't want to risk Canada's business deals with the Castro regime.
(Let's be clear: Canada does not have a single business partnership in Cuba with any entity that is not owned and operated by the Castro regime. Cubans are prohibited from engaging in foreign commerce -- it's an exclusive monopoly of the dictatorship.)
John Baird gave Cuban dissidents the same treatment Canadian tourists and businessmen have been giving the Cuban people for two decades -- a shameful snub.
Sadly, this is what many advocates of normalizing relations with Cuba would like to see the U.S. do as well.
So what "influence" has doing business and sucking up to the Castro regime "bought" the Canadians?
To the contrary, it has allowed the Castro regime to blackmail Canada into a collusive silence