Musings —10.21.2015 06:56 AM—
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.