Trudeau's former principal secretary now working with political risk consultancy

17 May 2019 3 min. read
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Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s former principal secretary, is now working with New York–based global political risk research and consulting firm Eurasia Group. The former senior political aide to the PM will work on building up a new “geopolitics of climate” practice.

As Trudeau’s top political advisor, Gerald Butts architected the Liberal Party platform that led to a majority victory in October 2015. A long-time friend of Mr. Trudeau (they met while studying at McGill), Butts served as principal secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office until March of this year, resigning in the wake of the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

The scandal stems from allegations that the PMO and others pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to halt the criminal prosecution of the Montreal-based engineering firm, which was charged by the RCMP for bribing government officials in Libya to secure contracts. Butts maintains that neither he nor anyone in the PMO did anything wrong. 

Trudeau's former principal secretary now working with political risk consultancy

Now, Butts – who developed an LPC platform which included a carbon tax – will be working on building a new "geopolitics of climate" practice at consultancy Eurasia Group. Butts boasts a good deal of top-level political advisory and environmental sector experience. Prior to serving as Trudeau’s top aide, Butts was CEO of environmental charity WWF-Canada and principal secretary to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.

The project is one of several Butts is working on, he revealed in a group email to a list of contacts. As the effects of global climate change continue to accelerate, companies will only have a handful of business cycles to plan for “major changes to the natural world upon which all their supply chains rely,” Butts wrote in the email.

Climate change consulting is a burgeoning field, as companies seek to future proof their operations against changing weather patterns, sea levels, and heightening temperatures. The future effects of climate change also have a strong political component as parts of the globe become unliveable, leading to mass migration and border pressures, or conflicts over dwindling resources.

Let’s get political

Founded in 1998 by political scientist Ian Bremmer, Eurasia Group claims to be the first firm devoted exclusively to helping investors and business executives understand the impact of politics on the risks and opportunities and foreign markets.

As its name suggests, Eurasia Group was initially focused on the emerging states of the former Soviet Union; since then, the firm has broadened its expertise to developed and developing countries in every region of the globe. The consultancy today boasts offices in New York, Washington, London, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Tokyo, and Singapore.

Eurasia Group offers forward-looking research and analysis on global, country, and industry developments and trends – free of political bias and private interest influence. Want to know if that hard-left candidate is going to get elected and nationalize all of your widget concerns? Eurasia Group can probably help.

The firm also provides management consulting filtered through a political lens, connecting geopolitics to long-term planning and helping clients better assess investment environments and sector outlook, and detect disruptive trends. The firm has offerings across strategy planning, enterprise risk management, M&A, and market entry, among others.