For the longest time, U.S. President George W. Bush wasn’t seen as his own man. The Washington consensus was that there was a puppet master lurking behind the curtain: Vice-President Dick Cheney. And it was only after Bush sidelined Cheney during the later years of his tenure did he really come into his own.
We’ve got a similar problem happening here in Canada up on Parliament Hill. To get the gist of it, you only need to see one of the many memes circulating online of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau perched like a dummy on the lap of a messy haired, bespectacled man.
The man is Gerald Butts, Trudeau’s principal secretary. While his title may sound like he’s the chief coffee boy, make no mistake — he’s the head honcho. A former senior advisor to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, he’s referred to as PM Butts by many Liberal caucus members.
This undemocratic dynamic has been known to political watchers since day one but has managed to stay as an inside baseball story. Until now. In recent months, Butts has been drawing his own attention in a way that’s bound to make him a greater liability for the PM moving forward.
While you wouldn’t know it from much of the reporting, Butts is a motivating factor behind the all-night filibuster that the Conservatives began Thursday night.