OTTAWA - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is in hot water with the Maldives.

Maldives President Mohamed Waheed wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper to complain about Baird's conduct during recent Commonwealth meetings in New York.

In a statement posted on the Maldives president's website, Waheed alleges Baird made "inappropriate and derogatory remarks" and "posed several harshly worded questions" to his acting foreign minister.

The remarks pertained to "domestic politics in the Maldives," according to the statement, but Baird's exact words remain unclear.

Baird's office says the minister raised concerns about the first round of voting in the Maldives' presidential election, which the country's highest court on Monday declared was flawed, as well as reports of violence and intimidation.

Still, Baird's conduct has "put unnecessary pressure on an otherwise excellent relationship" between Canada and the small island nation in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives statement said.

Waheed alleges the comments were made during a meeting of Commonwealth foreign ministers on the sidelines of last month's United Nations general assembly.

An official with the Maldives embassy in New York, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said Baird's comments contained a "personal bias."

"The president was concerned by an expression and an admission of personal bias by the honourable minister, detriment to our bilateral relationship and contrary to the high esteem to which we hold the Canadian government and people."

Baird's office was not shying away from the controversy Monday. Spokesman Rick Roth said the minister was voicing concerns about the delay of the Maldives' run-off election and reports of violence and intimidation.

"He also pointed out the irony of the acting foreign minister of the Maldives representing that country at (the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group), when her president received five per cent of the vote in the first round of the election," Roth said in an email.

"Perhaps that is where President Waheed took offence."

Roth also said Baird "pointed out to (action group) members that the second round of elections have been 'suspended' under mysterious circumstances and called on Maldivian officials to proceed with the second round of elections without delay."

The Supreme Court of the Maldives on Monday annulled the results of the first round of voting in the country's presidential election, saying thousands of votes cast last month were tainted.

Roth also noted it is not the first time Baird has raised concerns about the Maldives.

"The minister believes that countries within the Commonwealth should adhere to a certain standard of values and principles, which is clearly lacking in the Maldives," he wrote.

Harper, who is in Southeast Asia this week for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation meeting, on Monday adopted a similar tone toward Sri Lanka over its ongoing human rights abuses.

The prime minister said he plans to boycott next month's Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka, and he threatened to cut the roughly $20 million Canada gives each year to various Commonwealth initiatives.

— With files from The Associated Press

Earlier on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird breaks a piece of wood with his hand to earn an honorary taekwondo black belt.

  • Grand Master Tae Eun Lee, a leading member of Canada’s Korean community who lives and teaches in Ottawa, presented the certificate to Baird, along with a uniform, black belt and taekwondo tie.

  • The black belt was awarded at a reception marking an official visit by Baird’s South Korean counterpart, H.E. Kim Sung-hwan.

  • UP NEXT: Interesting Moves In Cabinet Shuffle

  • James Moore Is On The Move

    James Moore was expected to land a promotion with this shuffle and he scored a doozy, moving from Heritage to Industry. The B.C. MP, who is 37, replaces Christian Paradis, who was seen as a disappointment with the role. A potential Tory leadership contender, Moore will now have a key economic portfolio on his resumé. (Paradis also lost his title as minister responsible for Quebec, handing that responsibility over to colleague Denis Lebel).

  • Jason Kenney's New Gig

    Jason Kenney, the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship since 2008, was moved to Human Resources and Skills Development which was re-branded as Employment and Social Development. There, Kenney, who harbours leadership ambitions, will be focused on fixing Canada’s skills gap. Government sources say more than 250,000 Canadians can’t find work, while Canadian employers are turning to temporary foreign workers and we should expect this to be a key feature of the prime minister’s new economic agenda in the fall. Kenney will ensure that the previously announced Canada Jobs Grant are successfully implemented with the provinces. Kenney might be happy that the government is relying so heavily on him and is spinning his job as an economic position, but it is believed the minister was eyeing National Defence, Public Safety or Foreign Affairs. Former diplomat Chris Alexander, who will replace Kenney at Citizenship and Immigration, scored a huge promotion in his first cabinet portfolio. Kenney’s secondary role as Minister of Multiculturalism was handed over to Minister of State Tim Uppal.

  • Chris Alexander's Big Step Forward

    Former diplomat Chris Alexander was in line for a big promotion Monday but his new post as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration — rather than to a junior ministry — was something of a surprise. With Harper focused on projecting youth and energy, it’s clear the 44-year-old Ontario MP is seen as a rising star

  • Shelly Glover's BIG Jump

    Manitoba MP Shelly Glover was rewarded with a full ministry rather than a junior role. The fluently bilingual former police officer was named minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. Her promotion comes just weeks after it was confirmed she violated election-spending rules in 2011.

  • MacKay Doesn't Get His Way

    Peter MacKay made no secret of his desire to stay in national defence, where he has served since 2007. But the Nova Scotia MP instead swapped chairs with Rob Nicholson, who was moved from Justice to Defence. A former Crown prosecutor, MacKay will now serve as Attorney General of Canada. MacKay’s time in defence may best be remembered for the troubled F-35 jet purchase and controversial use of a military search-and-rescue helicopter during a 2010 fishing trip.

  • Rona Demoted?

    Alberta MP Rona Ambrose was sent from Public Works to Health in a move that some interpret as a demotion. Ambrose was praised for her efforts at Public Works, overseeing the multi-billion shipbuilding contracts and the National Fighter Procurement Secretariat, which is reviewing the government’s decision to purchase F-35 fighter jets. She will now be replaced by Diane Finley.

  • Peter Van Loan Stays Put

    Some believed (perhaps had hoped?) that Government House Leader Peter Van Loan would be shuffled out of that role or turfed from cabinet. Instead, Harper left his aggressive House Leader right where he was. A divisive figure, Van Loan clashed with opposition MPs as well as many Conservative backbenchers who believed he had to go.

  • Kellie Leitch Makes A Splash

    It is not at all surprising that Kellie Leitch was rewarded with a large promotion Monday. The Ontario MP has had a meteoric rise since first winning in 2011. She was named Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women. The 42-year-old pediatric surgeon, who is known as an ambitious workaholic, is exactly the kind of fresh face Harper wants to project as his team moves toward 2015. Her communication skills are lacking, and she has a hard time in French but she’s great at rallying support with stakeholders.

  • Michelle Rempel's Junior Role

    Alberta MP Michelle Rempel, who at just 33 is the youngest member of the Tory caucus, was predicted to land a spot in cabinet. However, her role of Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification is more junior than some had anticipated.

  • Pierre's Promotion

    Tory MP and frequent attack dog Pierre Poilievre has cracked cabinet, as first reported over the weekend on HuffPost Canada. Poilievre, 34, will serve as Minister of State for Democratic Reform, which means he will field plenty of questions about the robocalls investigation and the Senate expense scandal.

  • Lisa Raitt's Fitting Shift

    Labour Minister Lisa Raitt, dropped into the role of Transport Minister, is the first woman to serve in the position. As a lawyer with a background in economics, Raitt isn't a surprising pick for transport. She served as the president and CEO of the Toronto Port Authority before being elected as an MP in 2008, and is currently the vice-chair of the cabinet economic committee. Raitt has also waded through several crises, both during her time at the Port Authority and as an MP, a skill she'll have to employ while dealing with the fallout from the Lac-Megantic disaster.


Like this article? Follow our Facebook page
Or follow us on Twitter