10.21.2015 06:56 AM

Q. and A. on Mr. Gerald Butts

One of the many puzzles in life is: (i) journalist contacts you, asking about something (ii) you’re busy, but you make time (iii) journalist makes no use whatsoever about what you said to him/her.

Thus this morning’s story about Gerald Butts in the National Post.  Asked for comment; gave comment; said comments vanish.  Sigh.

So, as a public service, what I said about Trudeau strategist Gerald Butts, in helpful question and answer format.  I believe in reusing and recycling.

Reporter: I’m trying to find out his age – small but important detail I always like to double check.

Me: I was at his 30th birthday party. Trudeau was too. Can’t remember what year.

Reporter: How do you think his time at Queen’s Park will or has influenced his work with the federal party?

Me: He was highly respected at Queens Park. Fair, friendly, fun. He had both a strong policy background, and a great strategic mind. He helped make McGuinty a huge success.

Reporter: What role do you see him playing in a Trudeau government?

Me: Titles don’t matter, at the level of the relationship between he and Trudeau. Chief of Staff, principal secretary, whatever. He will have to move to Ottawa for much of the week, however.

Reporter: Are there specific policy areas you expect he will bring a certain focus to or knowledge of?

Me: He had a broad policy background. He did not bring pet projects to the table. He provided advice without fear or favour, and it was almost always the right advice. He was excellent at debate prep, platform development, and communications.

Reporter: At Queen’s Park, he has a reputation of both being tough but super smart and hardworking. He’s said to push the public service but also respects them – is this true?

Me: Yes. And let me give you a personal example. I wanted to run for the LPC in a Toronto riding. But instead of dispatching someone else, Gerald told me personally – to my face – that they wanted a woman to address the obvious gender imbalance in Parliament. I was upset, initially, but I came to realize he was right.

He gave it to me straight, and he was honest. That’s the kind of person we need advising Prime Ministers. They’re rare.

Reporter: Anything else you might want to add?

Me: I’ve been critical of some of the decisions Trudeau has made – the ISIS position, for example. I still disagree. But Gerald received my criticism with good humour and equanimity. Unlike some previous senior PMO folks, Gerald knows that the Liberal Party is a big tent party – and that it has to reach out to many points of view to survive and prosper.


  1. I turned off Butts primarily because of his ignorant and unnecessary tweet last Easter, criticizing Christians for sharing Easter messages including quotations from scripture. (A) His assumption that all was hypocrisy was arrogant. (B) His presumption that he was the sort of person, or in the sort of position, to issue such critique, was arrogant. (C) His failure to apologize, reasonably explain, or in any sensible or sensitive way respond to his action was arrogant. (D) That likely explains some significant thing or things about Trudeau (y’know…the company he chooses kind of thing). I only mention arrogance, because it is a wall-builder from which he appears disinclined to back away. The fact that it was also rude, erroneous and immature lend colour, but are all less damaging. But you know him better. I am sure he has likable qualities too. Yet I find the anti-Christian or anti-faith thread that becomes visible from time to time in Butts and Trudeau disturbing. Their deeper ethical sensibilities are lacking.

    • Warren says:

      I have had lunch with Gerald and said grace with him before we started. So, no. He is a spiritual person, but not possessed of evil spirits!

      • MC says:

        Good to hear (truly), although, to be honest, it doesn’t say a great deal. Lots of people “say” grace who never take the time to truly *seek* it.

        In any event, even if he felt there was some pertinence to his seeking to point out Christian hypocrisies (which he did not actually succeed in doing, unless they were his own), choosing the most sacred of Christian holy days to generally and arbitrarily demean Christians who were sharing relevant scriptural quotations with one another in celebratory greeting, appeared to me to be classless and arrogant to an extreme. (I suspect he would never have dared do the same to Muslims at Eid, Hindus at Diwali, or any other group at any other time, though they are equally as susceptible to the allegation of hypocrisy he chose to make.) I respect he’s a smart guy, and to his friends at least I am sure he is a nice guy, and I am fairly confident you are right that he’s not possessed of evil spirits 🙂 but the attitude that action revealed, in combination with his utter unwillingness to back away, modify, mollify or otherwise deal with it (other than to block at least one or two Twitter accounts of critics, as I recall) says a great deal more about his spirituality than grace over lunch, and presents fair warning about the kind of character he brings (and encourages his friend and leader to bring) to governance.

        But, enough said about that. It’s my impression of him. I’ll be pleased to be proven wrong over time.

    • Jon Evan says:

      This issue with Twitter is lack of context making certain tweets enigmatic (obviously on purpose). But Mr. Butts did clarify his Willie Shakespeare quote: “beware of false piety expressed for personal motives. It’s a pretty central message of the Gospels.”
      And so, I agree with him about advertising your piety on the internet. What’s with that? Christianity should be relational as it is with Jesus. Mr. Butts on that tread does call himself a Christian and I will take him at his word. But perhaps he should join the middle class moms on facebook where he might provide clarity with his words! Who likes cryptic quotes Mr. Butts?

  2. Dr Noseworthy says:

    Google “canada ISIS”

    Hundreds of foreign press articles about our abandoning our allies. At the top an article about Obama and Trudeau “strengthening their relationship”…. From the CBC. It appears the fawining media will even try to cover for the truly outrageous. The greatest act of duplicity in the history of this nation – telling out Allie how much we value them, then proceeding to abandon them on the battlefield.

    Against the most despicable malevolent enemy of our lifetimes no less.

    • The Doctor says:

      Agreed. I’ve seen a ton of these “our relations with Obama will improve” articles, and they’re devoid of logic and unattached to the facts. Meanwhile Justin the Messiah’s first foreign policy act is to give a big fat middle finger to our closest friends and allies. Trudeau Stockholm Syndrome.

    • Derek Pearce says:

      You are inserting the word “abandon” yourself– in all the international coverage I have read, the word “withdrawal” has been used. Unless your talking LifeSite or crazy places like that, I don’t hang out there so wouldn’t know.

      • The Doctor says:

        Did it occur to you that in many contexts, “abandon” and “withdraw” are essentially synonyms.

        “In times of crisis, Canada can be counted on to offer all aid short of help.”. – Robert F. Kennedy

        Yay! We have our Canada back!

        • Derek Pearce says:

          Hmmm, CAPTCHA hole again so this may be a repeat. But, “withdraw” and “abandon” can be synonyms, but in news parlance they have different connotations. And the international media is using withdraw and not abandon.

          • The Doctor says:

            I received the following assessment of the coverage from a friend who is a Canadian expat living in Zurich: “the tone is that Canada is now a lightweight.”. Yet in the eyes of LPC kool-aid drinkers, we are once again striding the world like Giants. Justin Beliebers.

      • The Doctor says:

        The New York Times refers to Trudeau Jr.’s move as “dropping out”. Which term has nothing but positive connotations, of course.

  3. Plato says:

    Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

    George Orwell, a democratic socialist like yourself, wrote: “Pacifism is objectively pro-fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side, you automatically help out that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one.”

    As such, the Canadian State is now helping the side of the Islamic State, an entity as genocidal as the SS’s Death’s Head Units or the Khmer Rouge’s elite cadres. To the Christians being literally crucified, the young girls sold into sex slavery, the message is clear: the Canadian State has abandoned you. How do you explain this shocking moral and tactical lapse of judgment?

    • Ted H says:

      Dear Plato, on this issue you appear as misguided as your namesake, after all, his Republic was basically a Fascist State. I don’t believe Mr. Trudeau plans to abandon Canada’s struggle against ISIS but rather plans to abandon the air bombing campaign which appears to be an insignificant percentage of the total effort anyway. Rather, he plans to concentrate on the much less expensive and much more effective role of training and equipping the local fighters on the ground. It has been said that only boots on the ground can take and hold territory, it cannot be accomplished simply by dropping bombs. In other words, Canada will be providing less sizzle but a lot more steak.

    • KBab says:

      Uhm, the Khmer Rouge came into being BECAUSE OF THE MASSIVE CARPET BOMBING, Bozo.

      • Derek Pearce says:

        Yes, because it destabilized the Cambodian government and allowed the Khmer Rouge come in and take over. ( Is ISIS destablized by bombing? Sure. But not removable this way). What got rid of the Khmer Rouge in the end? A *ground invasion* by Vietnamese forces. Before this, what lost the US the Vietnam war? They tired of losing men trying to fight a ground war, and bombing alone couldn’t win it, even though the US dropped more explosive tonnage on the Ho Chi Minh Trail and North Vietnam than all the combatants of WWII dropped on each other.

        Look, I’m going to let you “win” and have the last word, because it’s clear from day 1 that the pearl clutchers aren’t going to be swayed from thinking a terrorist will shortly be under their bed because 6 Canadian jets at a cost of a billion bucks for this mission are now coming home. Enjoy your terror even as you know our special forces are still there training rebels.

        • Badger says:

          You are distorting history, e.g.:

          In the 1970s, Mao wanted a client state in the developing world to match the Cold War influence of the United States and the Soviet Union. He found it in neighboring Cambodia. “To regard itself as rising power, China needed that type of accessory,” Andrew Mertha, author of “Brothers in Arms: China’s Aid to the Khmer Rouge, 1975-1979,” said in an interview.

          According to Mr. Mertha, director of the China and Asia-Pacific Studies program at Cornell University, China provided at least 90 percent of the foreign aid given to the Khmer Rouge, from food and construction equipment to tanks, planes and artillery. Even as the government was massacring its own people, Chinese engineers and military advisers continued to train their Communist ally.

          “Without China’s assistance, the Khmer Rouge regime would not have lasted a week.”


  4. Derek Pearce says:

    When the US/UK decide to go in on the ground to fight ISIS and ask for Canada’s help in ground combat, then we can have a discussion about our role against ISIS. Oh right, no one wants to get that involved. It’s more cost effective to train rebels and give humanitarian aid than to spend $1Billion on bombing that *sounds tough but does not do much in the end*. I thought conservatives thought spending money on symbolic acts was foolish?

  5. Dork in East York says:

    I hindsight Warren do you regret not running in Toronto-Danforth?

  6. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    IMHO Trudeau made this happen. He inspired confidence in him. It wasn’t Butts, Reporter, Telford, etc.

  7. Fred Webb says:

    As a septuagenarian fan of Nick Cave I love the “make a little history tweet. If it had gone the other way would the reference would have been “God is in the House” or “The Mercy Seat”

  8. James Armstrong says:

    Candidates should be chosen by a democratic vote of local party delegates.
    Subverting this process, even for “good” reasons [We need more women.”] undermines democracy. What if voters choose not to vote for that woman? Should we abolish voting in that constituency and simply appoint that woman to Parliament?
    Traditional feminists wanted equal opportunity with men. Allowing “wise” party executives to choose women candidates is ultimately patronizing to women, implying that they are incapable of winning a nomination through the traditional democratic process. Margaret Thatcher proved that capable women can succeed in politics without any special favours.

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