We don’t need a #%&$ palace, but …

OK, a person on social media made this comment about a week ago:

Screen Shot 2019-07-04 at 17.06.37

I agree, up to a point … it’s a house and a lot of people will say that she’s right: we don’t need a billion-dollar palace … but Canada, the country does need a place (not a palace) where the head of government can conduct the nation’s official business, which includes meeting with and wining and dining provincial premiers and visiting world leaders, and a place where (s)he can live in relative peace and security, and, sadly, in the 21st-century security is a big part of the price tag for all official residences and government offices and so on … we learned that in October 2014 when Michael Abdallah Bulgasem Zehaf-Bibeau first killed a sentry at the National War Memorial and then entered the Parliament Buildings, seemingly intent on killing some political leaders. Apparently, the killer was upset because he had yet to receive a passport to allow him to go to Libya.

But there is more to an official residence than just security. We, Canadians, are not, actually, required to provide our head of government or the leader of the opposition 24Sussex01.jpgwith an official residence; it wasn’t done for Mackenzie-King or RB Borden and so on, but we have done so, as do most other Western democracies, since 1951. 24 Sussex Drive is an old house, built in 1868, and expropriated in 1946, for $140,000. But it cost $500,000 to renovate back around 1950 ~ see this informative video at 20’00” to 22’30”. The house was always valuable and if you consider how much $500,000 would buy in 1950 it is and always was a multi-million dollar mansion, by today’s standards, like it or not, as is Stornoway.

It is sad that we have made them so political.

I understand that many people, like Astrid K, are upset that we provide a politician (who she despises, as do I) with a mansion in which to live … and politicians from John Diefenbaker to Justin Trudeau have been conscious of the same thing and most have scrimped on maintenance, not wanting to be blamed for high spending on their own comfort. But their frugality was, almost always, misplaced. All homes, even my concrete block condo, need regular maintenance or they will deteriorate, and the delayed repairs ~ renovations ~ end up being more expensive than necessary, at least more expensive than they would have been had the house been properly maintained over the years.

Somehow, a prime minister has bite-the-bullet and say that the official residences will be properly (and routinely) maintained to a standard that reflects their status.

There will always be Astrid Ks out there, bless her heart … just as there are always critics of everything. StornowayBut, sometimes, politicians and bureaucrats must be ready “to suffer the slings and arrows” of public outrage and do the right things and maintain our official residences, Rideau Hall, 24 Sussex Drive, Stornoway and a few others, including Rideau Cottage, which is part of the Rideau Hall complex, where Prime Minister Trudeau has lived for 3½ years while the costs and schedule for repairing 24 Sussex Drive are still being debated. It’s time for the debates and studies to stop. We have official residences and most Canadian want them maintained properly for their intended purposes. It’s time to get one with renovating and then exercising responsible ownership of “our” property and the first step is to stop treating them as political footballs.

3 thoughts on “We don’t need a #%&$ palace, but …

  1. I’ve never understood why those residences have not been maintained to a reasonable standard they are national responsibilities and to be mingy about upkeep shows a weakness in our national character, Let us at least keep up with other middle powers such as the Scandinavians.

    1. Bill, one of the reasons is that some PMs have been very reluctant to allow renovations, fearing, with reason, that they will be accused of spending taxpayers’ money (your money and mine) on their own comfort. They were/are wrong to think like that but I understand why so many did and do.

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