Apologies to the bard, but I think Gerald Butts has gone overboard, assuming this article from CBC News is correct.
In the linked article Katie Simpson says that “The prime minister’s top adviser is comparing questions about Maryam Monsef’s family history to the racially charged “birther” movement in the United States.”
“Gerald Butts, principal secretary to Justin Trudeau,” she reports “used social media to make the link between criticism of the Liberal cabinet minister and a campaign that falsely claimed that U.S. President Barack Obama was not born in America … [and] … Butts specifically called out the Globe and Mail on Wednesday evening after it published an editorial about Monsef online. The editorial appeared in Thursday’s newspaper.“
The Globe and Mail editorial is here; it says, in part, as I have suggested, too, that “Her displaced upbringing is a narrative familiar to the millions who fled the region during that period. So it is entirely believable that Ms. Monsef would be under the mistaken belief that she was born in the Afghanistan city of Herat, as she claimed until last week, rather than her actual birthplace in the Iranian city of Mashhad, 373 kilometres away … [and] … It is also plausible that, as Ms. Monsef claims, her mother kept that information to herself on the grounds that it was too painful to relive, and because in the end it didn’t really matter. They were Afghans who had taken refuge in Iran and who returned to Afghanistan when they could. The children were never entitled to Iranian citizenship.“
But the Good Grey Globe asks a question, too, and suggests that Canadians want and are entitled to receive more information.
Gerald Butts’ response is entirely inappropriate, in fact, and I’m being charitable here, it was downright stupid. The Globe and Mail may not be the best friend the Liberals have in the media but it is hardly an enemy and its editorial was reasoned, reasonable and appropriate. Gerald Butts’ reaction was overblown, bombastic, defensive and even fearful … and it begs the question: of what are he and the Ms Monsef and the Liberals afraid, what are they trying to hide?
Gerald Butts has “changed the channel” and he has given the opposition parties, the media and the blogosphere free reign to go after Minister Monsef and hound her and the PM about a “coverup” until she breaks.
I still think Minister Monsef deserves the benefit of the doubt, but Mr Butts has just pulled some of the props out from under her. I have to wonder: is he just being overly defensive or is this the first step in making her expendable and sending her into backbench oblivion as a “one-term wonder?”
Gerald Butts appears to be the “keeper of the Trudeau flame” and IF, and it’s still a big if, Ms Monsef was poorly screened then Justin Trudeau’s leadership abilities must be called into question.