Ottawa is a town based on rumours and speculation and right now, despite Parliament not sitting and the humidity making a daytime walk down Sparks Street unbearable, there is plenty of political chatter.
I got a message yesterday asking me if I knew about Gerry Butts being dumped by Team Trudeau, replaced by David Herle. It was a totally unconfirmed rumour and it remains that way but that hasn’t stopped it from making the rounds of politicos on or near The Hill.
Colour me sceptical on this one. Sure, Butts has not delivered of late. The Dauphin is no longer the frontrunner and things are not looking good as we head for an early election call but there is no way, in my estimation, that Justin Trudeau is going to dump Gerry Butts outright. The two have been friends for more than 20 years and Butts helped Trudeau win the leadership.
That doesn’t mean Butts isn’t being shunted though - given a lesser role or simply told Herle is in charge now.
Rumours sometimes take a while to play out in this town. Butts could stay in place or he could already have been set aside at the top dog on the campaign by Herle.
Whatever I think of Herle’s tactics, going back to his days as Paul Martin’s top campaign guy – we saw how well that went – he did help Kathleen Wynne find not only a victory in the last Ontario election but also moved her from minority to majority while mired in scandal.
Now speaking of the campaign, I’ve long thought the Conservatives would drop the writ early. My guesstimate has been August 23 or 30for the past month or two, although voting day would stay October 19.
Why would they do that? They have the money for a longer campaign, the campaign is really already under way and calling it early should shut down the third party groups which are almost entirely on the left and union funded (although I have my doubts Elections Canada will do its job on that front).
So for all those reasons I’ve been expecting an early campaign call. The first leaders debate after all is next week, August 6.
With that realization I started to think we could go even earlier, say August 9. Now I’m being whispered to that a call could come this weekend.
I don’t know how much stock to put in that rumour but I will guarantee the call will come before Labour Day.
Like I said, this is a town of rumours; some are true and some are false. I don’t comment on most of them but these two...they required a few passing words.
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