Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday February 20, 2019
Gerald Butts and Justin Trudeau ‘would finish each others’ sentences’
The two men, who met at McGill, forged their bonds in debate club. In an interview with McGill News, Trudeau said the experience helped convince him he wasn’t cut out for a career as a lawyer or a debater.
Nonetheless, in 2013, like a throwback to his college days, he was smack back in a debate while running the campaign that would land him in the PMO, and Butts was advising during each commercial break.
“Butts … practically pinned his friend against the wall,” according to a 2015 Maclean’s profile. “He slung a jacketed arm over Trudeau’s shoulder and spoke in hushed tones, inches from his face. It wasn’t so much aggressive as intensely friendly — a boxer with his longtime coach — with Trudeau occasionally nodding at Butts’s words.”
That helped reinforce a stereotype that Butts served as the brain of the operations while Trudeau provided the charming smile and personality to woo voters.
Their life stories, are of course vastly different: Butts, 47, born to a coal miner and nurse in Cape Breton, graduated from McGill, and after earning a master’s degree even briefly pursued a PhD in literature at York University in Toronto.
Before finishing his degree, he entered politics, rose through the ranks of former Ontario Premier Dalton McGinty’s office and later became chief executive of World Wildlife Foundation-Canada.
Trudeau, meanwhile, the son of a former prime minister, pursued a career as a teacher after McGill until decades later, Butts helped convince him to run for office.
“I often did get the sense that they often would finish each others’ sentences,” said Jonathan Kay, who helped Trudeau with his autobiography and was a columnist for the National Post.
Kay said their personalities helped balance each other out, and the stereotype of Butts as the brains behind the operation is a mistake.
“They were very much equals,” he said, adding, “when they’re together they balance each other out.” (Continued: Financial Post)