OTTAWA - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird denounced Russia's controversial new anti-gay law as hateful Thursday, saying it could incite violence.
In an exclusive interview with The Canadian Press, Baird described how Canada has worked behind the scenes to persuade Russia not to follow through with the law.
Baird outlined the details of eight meetings, dating back to January, during which Canadian officials pushed the issue with the Russians, before and after President Vladimir Putin signed the controversial bill into law in June.
Baird said he is deeply concerned about Thursday's comments by Russia's sports minister that the new law will be enforced during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
"As concerned as we are about the Olympics, that's nothing. That's two, three, four weeks for the athletes and participants and the visitors," Baird said in a telephone interview from Colombia.
"This mean-spirited and hateful law will affect all Russians 365 days of the year, every year. It is an incitement to intolerance, which breeds hate. And intolerance and hate breed violence."