The man’s name is Gerald Butts, and his position within the government appears to have been as best friend to the Prime Minister since university days. The commentariat is agog with expressions indicating that the government is in a serious decline, that it will possibly never recover, portraying the Prime Minister as a bereft, lonely guy floating around in bewilderment with the loss of his best friend.
Readers, if I have any left, will by now know my antipathy for anything to do with either the Liberal or Conservative parties, and will, I hope, be prepared to forgive my belief that, far from being alone in my lack of knowledge of this Mr, Senor or Monsieur Butts, I believe I am probably allied in my ignorance with the vast majority of the estimated 37,162,063 people of Canada.
The odd thing is that the very newspaper that started this whole kerfuffle that has led to the resignation of a Cabinet minister and an advisor, has, in an editorial published on this very day, admitted that in spite of everything so far written --- hundreds of thousands of words, uncounted bottles of printers’ ink, untold pages of newspaper print, and oceans of barely suppressed fury and explosive frustration --- not enough is known about the controversy to allow anyone in Canada to understand if the government has done anything unpraiseworthy, immoral, incorrect, or even just damned stupid. (Whew! I’ve gotta admit I like that as a sentence.)
I just lifted my head from my computer and right in front of me, flowing across the screen of my TV is the headline LIBERALS ATTEMPT TO MANAGE CRISIS, behind which a woman later identified as “a crisis communications expert”, whatever that is, is pontificating as to the seriousness of the situation we all find ourselves confronted with. Could his be one of those events foretold by Naomi Klein in her book The Shock Doctrine in which a crisis is deliberately manufactured with the intention of creating chaos from which emerges a change of government? It seems so far to bear all the hallmarks, if I may be permitted a cliché. The only thing that holds me back from making such a judgment is that the only person likely to profit from such a crisis would be the impossibly feeble Andrew Scheer, the leader of the hateful Conservatives, and he certainly doesn't give the impression that he has sufficient wit, cunning, courage, or capacity to have embarked on such a machiavellian course of action.
Maybe it’s just that it is a poor news day: the BBC has handed over its channel to the death of someone called Karl Lagerfeld, who apparently rescued the fashion house of Chanel from obscurity.
With such poor news pickings, maybe our manufactured crisis, culminating in the resignation of Mr., Senor or Monsieur Butts has presented itself to the nation’s editors as a temporary god-send.
Another aspect of this crisis has been the unexpected elevation of the demoted Justice Minister-later-resigned-Veterans-Affairs-Minister, Jody Wilson Raybould, to sainthood, leading one aboriginal leader this morning to say her status among his people is the highest that can be imagined, or words to that effect. Her resignation may be described as both strong-willed, and cunning, for it followed a statement by the Prime Minister that her continued presence in Cabinet spoke to his faith in her and her judgment. To which one can imagine her saying to herself, “Oh, yeah, I’ll give him faith in my judgment,” and thereupon forthwith cutting the ground from under his exalted feet by resigning. If I describe this as a mischievous act, I hope no one will take that as a criticism: we need more mischievous acts from our politicians, who, by and large, tend to be a stolid, unimaginative lot. Talking of mischievous acts, the resigned minister’s father Chief Bill Wilson, a gruff old character, who described his daughter as a woman of steel will, let off a well-merited blast at what he called “this cosmetic baloney” of the Trudeau government’s policy of seeking conciliation with the indigenous people of Canada. I have known Bill for many years, and feel free to describe him as mildly mischievous from having shared with him an event in a hotel room in Ottawa many years ago in which either he threw one of my shoes out the window of a seventh floor room, or I threw one of his out, I can't remember which. I do remember we had as very good time, cheerfully --- one might almost say mischievously --- dissing everyone within our ken.
His daughter --- a master stroke this ---- couples her resignation with the news that she has hired a former justice of the Supreme Court, the only institution in the land equivalent to her own growing sainthood, to advise her on what she can and cannot say.
This alone has made it seem almost inevitable that she is going to spill some sort of beans sometime in the future, and everybody is now insinuating that that hanging possibility alone might be the cause of the self-immolation of Mr., Senor or Monsieur Gerald Butts, on what otherwise might develop into the funeral pyre of his best university friend Justin Trudeau, now engaged in his “happy days” Prime Ministership.
Well, here’s a pickle, or as I began with, a pretty thing. On its outcome could well depend the future of the 8,700 workers of Canada’s major multinational engineering firm, and their families, let’s say, of some 20,000 people --- not a small matter, by any count, especially when it is thrown into the stew with all this political posturing.
Who knows how it will come out? Well, wot the hell, wot the hell. We’ll just have to wait and see.