Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode
THE BIBLIO FILE is a podcast about "the book," and an inquiry into the wider world of book culture. Hosted by Nigel Beale it features wide ranging, long-form conversations with best practitioners inside the book trade and out - from writer to reader. Why listen? The hope is that it will help you to read, write, publish, edit, design, and collect better, and improve how you communicate serious, big, necessary, new, good ideas and stories...

Feedback or suggestions? Please email 

Jan 30, 2023

Last year when John Duffy, a Canadian political strategist and writer, died at the age of 58, I noticed an outpouring of genuine love, and sadness, on Twitter, along with frequent references to his book Fights of our Lives. It was called one the best ever written on Canadian politics. So I picked up a copy. It's filled with dozens of old photographs, and images of period posters, and flyers, buttons, correspondence, and other fascinating bits and pieces of ephemera and memorabilia: the 'confetti of history' as Walter Benjamin liked to put it, plus it features these great 'diagrams' of game plans, 'playbooks,' that John came up with to explain the strategies and tactics used in what he considered to be the five most consequential elections in Canadian history. It was visually captivating, and a fun informative read, so I decided to feature it on The Biblio File Book Club. But who to engage with?
Several people suggested Justin Trudeau's close friend and advisor, Gerry Butts. After a bit of toing and froing, and my prematurely and, as it turns out, quite erroneously, dismissing him as a typical political bounder, it all came together. Gerry agreed to play ball. We met in person several days ago at the Chateau Laurier hotel in Ottawa. 
Gerry is currently Vice Chairman of The Eurasia Group, a risk management firm with offices around the world. We talk here about John Duffy's optimism, about whether or not elections matter; about cynicism, championship debating, Canada's business elite, the PBO's report on income inequality, the urban-rural divide, 1300 Dollarama stores, lifting children out of poverty, the King-Bing Affair, SNC Lavalin, the Manitoba School crisis, Wilfrid Laurier and Justin Trudeau's 'Sunny Ways,' kicking the can down the road; Lament for a Nation, and Mel Hurtig. There's a James Joyce quote. Gerry tells a joke about Franz Kafka on the way out the door, and I recommend that he reads Nora Krug's illustrated edition of On Tyranny
Plus another thing: we're both convinced that John Duffy's Fights of our Lives (egregiously it's both out of print and published by an American multi-national) should be made into a TV Series as soon as possible.