Gerald Butts

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Gerald Butts
Gerald Butts.jpg
Butts in November 2015
Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister
Assumed office
November 2015
Personal details
Born Gerald Michael Butts[1]
(1971-07-08) July 8, 1971 (age 44)
Glace Bay, Nova Scotia
Nationality Canadian
Spouse(s) Jodi (Heimpel) Butts
Residence Toronto, Ontario
Alma mater McGill University
York University

Gerald Michael Butts (born July 8, 1971) is the senior political adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.[2] Since November 2015, he has been the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister.[3][4] From 2008 to 2012, he was President and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund Canada, a global conservation organization.

Early life and education[edit]

Butts grew up in the Bridgeport neighbourhood of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, with three older brothers and one older sister.[5] He is the son of Charles William Butts, a coal miner, and Rita Monica (Yorke) Butts, a nurse and a first-generation Canadian daughter of a Ukrainian father and a Polish mother.[6][7][8][9]

He received a B.A. and M.A. in English literature from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. It was at McGill that he was introduced to Justin Trudeau by a mutual friend.[5][10] There, he was also elected president of the Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debate and won the national debating championships two years in a row.[5] He briefly attended York University to pursue a Ph.D.[9]


In 1999, Butts became a policy director within the Government of Ontario.[5] He was the Policy Secretary, and later the Principal Secretary, in the office of the then Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, in Toronto.[11] Butts had previously worked with senator Allan MacEachen, and with George Smitherman.[5] With Butts' influence,[9] the Ontario Liberal Party won the Ontario provincial elections in 2003 and in 2007.

On June 25, 2008, Butts was announced as the President and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund Canada. He officially took up the position on September 2, 2008,[12] succeeding Mike Russill.

On October 16, 2012,[13] Butts left WWF-Canada to become the political advisor to Justin Trudeau.[14] His position at WWF-Canada was filled by David Miller, a former Mayor of Toronto.

On December 13, 2012, Butts was interviewed by Steve Paikin for The Agenda on the topic of 'The Best Way to Clean Up the Environment'.[15][16] Butts has published articles in the Boston Book Review, the Literary Review of Canada, and Gravitas. He has also appeared on television programs such as W5 and TSN's Off the Record.

2015 Canadian Election[edit]

Stemming from a two-decade-long friendship, Butts became the senior political adviser to Justin Trudeau in 2012.[2] Thus, he is among the five people with whom Trudeau consults regularly.[9] He assisted on the vast majority of policy on which Trudeau campaigned.[9]

Previously, during Trudeau's initial time as Liberal party leader, Butts advised on such decisions and issues as the legalizing of marijuana, the expulsion of the entire Liberal Senate caucus,[2] and Trudeau's position on the Northern Gateway pipeline.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Butts is the nephew of a former Canadian senator, the Hon. Mary Alice “Peggy” Butts.

He is married to Jodi (Heimpel) Butts, a lawyer,[17] and they have two children, Aidan Ignatius (born May 6, 2006)[18] and Ava Augusta (born December 1, 2007).[19] They reside in High Park, Toronto.


  1. ^ "Alumnotes". 
  2. ^ a b c d "Justin and Gerald". 
  3. ^ "Leadership of the Prime Minister's office". Official website of the Parliament of Canada. Retrieved Jan 12, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Inside Trudeau’s inner circle". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). Jan 8, 2016. Retrieved Jan 12, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Lee Berthiaume, Ottawa Citizen More Lee Berthiaume, Ottawa Citizen. "Trudeau’s most trusted adviser? A Cape Bretoner named Gerry Butts - Ottawa Citizen". Ottawa Citizen. 
  6. ^ "Charles W. Butts". 
  7. ^ "J. David Butts". 
  8. ^ "Glace Bay native key adviser in Trudeau's inner circle". 
  9. ^ a b c d e Martin Patriquin. "Meet the man who made his friend the next prime minister". 
  10. ^ "Cape Breton man key player in Trudeau victory". CTV News. 
  11. ^ The Liberal Team That Dethroned the Tories (Ottawa Citizen, 2003)
  12. ^ WWF-Canada Appoints New CEO (WWF-Canada,2008)[dead link]
  13. ^ "A message from Gerald Butts". WWF-Canada Blog. 
  14. ^ The Hill Times. "Butts resigns from job to work full-time on Trudeau’s Liberal leadership bid, creates more speculation over McGuinty's federal intentions". 
  15. ^ "Agenda Plus: The Best Way to Clean Up the Environment". TVO. 
  16. ^ Gerald Butts on Climate Change. YouTube. 15 December 2009. 
  17. ^ Law Society of Upper Canada - call to the bar in Toronto on Feb. 24, 2000.
  18. ^ "Alumnotes". McGill University. McGill News. August 7, 2008. Retrieved November 21, 2015. GERALD MICHAEL BUTTS, BA’93, MA’96, and his wife Jodi Heimpel Butts welcomed the arrival of their son, Aidan Ignatius, born on May 6, 2006. Gerald is Principal Secretary to Premier Dalton McGuinty and lives in Toronto. 
  19. ^ "Alumnotes". McGill University. McGill News. December 16, 2008. GERALD BUTTS, BA'93, MA'96, and his wife Jodi are happy to announce the safe and healthy arrival of their second child, Ava Augusta Butts. Ava was born on December 1, 2007 at Women's College Hospital in Toronto.