Toronto’s 50 Most Influential: #5, Gerald Butts
Our annual ranking of the people whose smarts, connections and clout are changing the city as we know it
5 Chalk up the Liberal surge to some combination of anti-Harper sentiment, Trudeauian charisma and a general jonesing for change, but don’t discount the role of Butts. As principal advisor to Trudeau, Butts was at his side virtually every day during the campaign, playing attack dog, debate coach, armchair therapist and Sun Tzu tactician as needed. His fingerprints were all over the sweep of the GTA, territory he knows well from his days as principal secretary and election whisperer to McGuinty. Under Butts’s strategic direction, the Grits focused on the city’s transit woes, took the high road on the niqab and spent heaps of time in the 905. In the process, Butts cemented his legacy as an adept reader of the Canadian psyche and a brilliant strategist. He’s now the most powerful non-elected person on Parliament Hill.
He’s the son of a Nova Scotian coal miner.