Gerald Butts, Trudeau's principal secretary, ignites Twitter skirmish over ISIS policy

Justin Trudeau's principal secretary, Gerald Butts, got into a back-and-forth discussion on Twitter Tuesday morning, a day after the prime minister announced the government's new anti-ISIS plan.

Prime minister's adviser gets into heated back-and-forth with political analysts

Justin Trudeau's principal secretary, Gerald Butts, engaged in a lengthy exchange on Twitter Tuesday regarding the Liberal government's new anti-ISIS plan. (The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's ​principal secretary Gerald Butts got into some heated exchanges Tuesday morning when he responded on Twitter to criticism of the Liberals' newly unveiled anti-ISIS mission plan.

The response then turned into an intense clash of ideas.

The altercation started when Stephanie Carvin, an assistant professor at Carleton University and researcher at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, tweeted comments about the Pentagon's response to the Liberals' new anti-ISIS mission.

But Butts was quick to respond, arguing the Liberals have always "owned" their decision.

The argument took a turn when Steve Saideman, a international relations scholar and fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, took Butts to task for, in his view, the government's inability to explain its reasoning for pulling six CF-18 jets from the fight against ISIS.

That led to a long exchange between the two on the most effective way to fight ISIS.

Political researcher Mark Kersten and author Claude Rocan also weighed in. 

The exchange ended with Saideman commenting on the lack of rationale and "muddled" messaging coming from the Liberals. 

Both eventually agreed to disagree.

But things continued with criticism from Conservative party MP Michelle Rempel, who tweeted that Canada is not playing its part in the fight against ISIS, which elicited one more rejoinder from Butts.


Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan discusses the new plan for Canada's ISIS fight 13:50

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