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It’s time to tear down 24 Sussex

Paul Wells is launching a call for bids to design the PM a new house


 

Ottawa Shootings 20141022

It has no fire sprinklers. Its walls are lined with asbestos. Its plumbing and wiring would not pass muster in any other house in Ottawa. It is drafty. Its air conditioners make a racket. It has, by all accounts, hideous carpeting on the stairs.

It has not had a thorough makeover in half a century. Fixing it in 2006 would have cost $10 million. Fixing it now will certainly cost more. Whenever the repairs begin, the tenants will have to vacate the property for at least a year, probably more. It was not built for its august purpose and it does not bear its burden gracefully. It oppresses its residents—though they are required by the unbreakable codes of populism to deny any problem—and it doesn’t uplift the nation. Frankly it doesn’t even do much for the neighbourhood.

It is the Prime Minister’s residence at 24 Sussex Drive, and it is time to tear the sucker down.

This will not go over well in certain circles. I’d call them “heritage” circles, except there is hardly any heritage left in the place, if there ever was any. It was built in 1868 by a lumber baron named Joseph Merrill Currier for his third wife, Hannah. Currier was also a member of Parliament and dabbled in various other unsavoury trades: rail transport, postal delivery, newspaper publishing. The house he built on the bluffs overlooking the Ottawa River didn’t even become a prime minister’s residence until 1951, when Louis St. Laurent moved in. So the list of PMs who never lived there—King, Laurier, Macdonald, Kim Campbell—is at least as impressive as the list of those who did. (Kim didn’t have the job long enough to move in.)

Now even if there were some national mandate to preserve the houses of Joseph Merrill Currier for future generations, that mandate would have been violated long ago. Successive tenants have added all manner of extensions, inside and out. The rules of heritage property protection have been ignored for almost as long as 24 Sussex has been a famous address.

I have never set foot in the house, though I have been an occasional guest on its lovely back lawns. Every summer the tenants invite members of the press gallery, usually through gritted teeth, to a garden party. This year the lobster sandwiches were excellent. Laureen Harper told us funny stories about hiking. Then she turned around and headed bravely back inside, and we all felt a little wistful at her burden.

Well, I overstate things. “I’d live there,” one former frequent visitor tells me, “so let’s not pretend it’s a collapsing tool shed or anything.” But he followed with a list of “structural challenges” that included a leaky roof and, well, the sunroom: “To call it drafty would be an insult to open windows.”

So look, it probably won’t collapse onto Stephen Harper tonight. It can be renovated into ship-shape condition if Harper and Michael Ignatieff (and yes, yes, you too, Elizabeth May) simply agree that the winner of the next election will not reside at 24 Sussex until it has been fixed. But it will still be a half-heritage heffalump with assorted odd bits sticking out. It will continue to be outclassed by the stunning, proudly eccentric French Embassy next door, one of the most extraordinary jewels of art deco architecture anywhere in the world.

That $10-million repair bill—which has surely grown since the estimate was made three years ago—gives us room to dream. Do you know who just bought a $10-million house? Conan O’Brien. Do you know who else has a $10-million house? Hank Azaria, the voice of Apu on The Simpsons. I’m thinking if Apu can live well, so can our own nation’s leaders.

So let’s start over. Tabula rasa, ladies and gentlemen! Surely we are no longer still just a nation of hewers of wood, drawers of water, and patchers of drywall. We can create anew! We have architects and builders to beat the world and house a king, or at least a moderately well-respected public servant!

Just think of the stimulus a new public works project would provide. Not just economic stimulus, although I have it on high authority that you can’t build a house these days without putting shovels in the ground. Designing one of the country’s most visible buildings would stimulate imaginations too. So let’s hear it. Bing Thom, what would you build for our country’s first family? Saucier + Perotte? Jack Diamond? (No fair putting a trap door in, Jack. The tenant won’t always be a Conservative.)

I’m serious. This page is launching a call for bids. I want the recognized professional architects of Canada to design a new house for the Prime Minister. What can we build on a bluff overlooking the Ottawa River these days for, say, $12 million? It has to house an average-sized family comfortably. It needs space for them to play, relax, stay in shape, contemplate. It is not a functional government building, but in these days of telecommuting it will need spaces for the breadwinner to work, meet staff and pesky reporters, and welcome visiting dignitaries. Sometimes the premiers will be over to fix health care or the Constitution. There will have to be room at the big dining room table for 13 guests.

Make it green. Make it Internet-friendly. Make it secure—Jean Chrétien could tell you stories about prowlers. Make it beautiful. And make it snappy, because you’ve got a month to send in your (obviously preliminary, sketchy) ideas. Mail your proposals to “PM’s House” at Maclean’s, 150 Wellington Street, Suite 403, Ottawa, K1P 5A4. Or email them to inklesswells@gmail.com. Deadline for receipt of submissions is Thursday, July 23. We’ll publish the best ideas in this magazine soon after. To your drafting tables, ladies and gentlemen! A nation’s honour is at stake.


 

It’s time to tear down 24 Sussex

  1. Honest question: is it the rule that every nation must provide its leader with a residence? Are there any cases where the PM/President/whatever simply gets an allowance to go rent or buy his or her own place?

    • The PM as head of government hosts the heads of government/state from all over the world. His/her role as Canada's #1 ambassador places on him/her an obligation to put our country's best foot forward. I'm sorry but you can't do that from a plastic sided suburban home or an urban condo flat. There are only so many gracious, suitable residences from which to launch the necessary hospitality and to reflect the character of the nation.

      • Fair enough – and I knew that already. But why not just a build or use an existing modest banquet hall with meeting rooms? Why does it have to be a residence?

        Also, I thought our GG was technically first in line as our ambassador and representative.

        • Good point on protocol; I'll concede that. GG beats PM every time.

          Does it have to be a residence? Somehow, it feels right to me. But that could just be a socialized acceptance, as I have never given it any thought and it is what we have grown up with here and elsewhere.

          • I know what you mean, to be sure. Maybe the prospect of neverending minority governments has me wondering if a permanent residence for the PM is something of a waste – as it's doubtful we're going to see Chretien or Trudeau length tenures in the future. (That said, you gotta hand it to Harper – he might confound all predictions yet.)

          • I actually prefer to believe that we don't gotta hand anything to Harper — he seems to be pretty good at helping himself to whatever he wants.
            Here's my plan: Rideau Hall is a pretty spacious shack; why not allocate a couple of the brs there to Prime Ministerial use. There might have been a side-benefit last December, because Michaele would probably been so annoyed by then by Harper's insistence that everything had to go his way that she might well have told him to piss off over the prorogation thing.

  2. If we see the next PM talking about abolishing the post of GG, we now know why. Policy? Hell no, they just want the house!

  3. I fully believe in the institutional role of our leaders and that we should be equipping them with the tools of the diplomatic trade. PW is probably right from what I have heard about the residence – apart from its strutural and architectual defects and shortcomings, it is disgracefully furnished and a poor staging ground for whoever fills the role of PM.

    Let us not indulge the stingy, mean side of our selves and express suspicious, jealous thoughts about the comfy confines we believe we are setting up for our leaders. Let's think instead of how best to express our more expansive and generous national character and think about our strategic best interests. We may not win new advances merely because of the PM's residence, but we may lose them.

  4. After winning the 'slugfest' we call a general election, the 'winner' should be given a windowless cell/bread, water till he improves the conditions of average Canadians! He shall be led to a comfy bed only then! TILL then, take away his VAT, his jet, and any other perks that come with the office! Bad carpeting, asbestos, noisy air conditioning, draftiness in that most Siberia of climates that is "Vladivostok on the O River" seems rather fitting I think! "Beating shall continue till moral improves!" I mean, if we give the guy (or gal) a swank mans, he's liable to think he's running the country or something!

  5. "The house he built on the bluffs overlooking the Ottawa River didn't even become a prime minister's residence until 1951 …"

    Okay, so it at least has some history as a Prime Minister's residence.

    "Successive tenants have added all manner of extensions, inside and out."

    That doesn't disqualify it as an historical building, nor does it disqualify it as a heritage building. 10 Downing Street was originally 3 houses merged into one. The Palace of Westminster itself is made up of constructions from different eras including Westminster Hall, built originally in 1097, the Jewel Tower, built in 1365, and the main Gothic structure built over 30 years from 1840.

    "So let's start over. Tabula rasa, ladies and gentlemen !"

    No, no, no !

    This is the Canadian disease : destroy anything historical, anything which has a connection with the past, anything which speaks to our heritage. Wipe it out, start afresh. This pathology is manifests itself in a particularly acute manner when it comes to bricks and mortar.

    We need to stop vandalizing, wrecking, rasing, watering down and denying our heritage and start celebrating it, no matter how impure and higgledy-piggledy it may be. We can start by fixing up 24 Sussex.

    • At the same time, would you concede that just being old isn't necessarily an receommendation of heritage value? As you say, some historic structures have valuable, yet ad hoc pasts, that lend them a certain air, either of grandeur or comfort or wealth or whathaveyou. Other structures of some vintage, on the other hand, have not handled the ad hoc process as well. In those cases, is heritage valuable or appropriate as a designation? Maybe not, I think.

      What constitutes heritage? Unique architecture, representation of a time or era? Age? Symbolism? History? As PO observes below, 24 Sussex is an address to most of us, not a real building. I would leave it to others to explain to me the heritage value to be saved by kepping the building as is. If there is no merit, build again and get it right.

      • "What constitutes heritage? Unique architecture, representation of a time or era? Age? Symbolism? History?"

        Answer : yes.

        What really makes me angry is the number of buildings connected to our history as a nation (this mainly means political history, but is not confined to it) which have been ripped down because they don't come up to some colonial mentality imposed standard for what is valuable. Mainly ripped down because they don't meet some foreign imposed standard of what is a 'pure' architectural style. Or because its history is confused or messy or inconvenient because it's no longer politically correct.

        Do you think the British vandalize their own culture just because they don't fit with current ideas ? Not on your nelly. They celebrate good and bad as British warts, bad parts and all. Wells wants to rip down 24 Sussex because it doesn't meet some bizarre standard of 'heritage' – seemingly because the building was not built all at once. This is wrong, wrong, wrong.

        In the meantime, we take a perfectly beautiful heritage building, the ROM, and build on an abortion of an addition which is not only ugly and not fitting with the style of the building as it was built and added onto, but wasn't even built to the original much more attractive design which was intended. If you want to do something original and daring, you should actually try to develop some taste first.

        We need to stop imposing the cultural standards of our former colonial powers (United Kingdom, France, United States, etc.) on ourselves. We need to start thinking for ourselves for once. Actually, we need to start thinking for once. It would make a pleasant change.

        • "…they don't come up to some colonial mentality imposed standard for what is valuable… Do you think the British vandalize their own culture just because they don't fit with current ideas ? Not on your nelly….We need to stop imposing the cultural standards of our former colonial powers… on ourselves. We need to start thinking for ourselves for once."

          I agree with parts of this. I tried agreeing with all of it but my head started to hurt.

        • I agree with your principles, Mulletaur; I just don't know if they're applicable to this particular situation. The British certainly celebrate they stately architectural heritage (though should we really applaud if they also celebrate the ghastly parts of it?); but they have a lot of stately architectural heritage to celebrate, both in the grand style and in the comfortable old Oxfordshire village style. We have some good architectural heritage and let's preserve that; but where's the sense in preserving the bad parts? The fact is, if the landed gentry in Britain hadn't gone about tearing down their Tudor manor houses and replacing them with Georgian versions, we wouldn't have any of those Jane Austen-esque backdrops we all know and love — and 18th C architects would have starved to death. The 18th C was a fantastic time for architecture; the 1860's were not; nowadays we're in another good time for architecture. Why not take advantage, like the 18th C aristocracy did?

          The ROM is a good case of architectural disaster, IMHO. Basically the ROM went out and tried to sex itself up; and, as often, it only managed to tart itself up. Architects, like all artists, need a firm hand; if the patron doesn't know what he wants, how can the artist guess? A lack of clear function makes for a lack of nice building. In this case, if we told the applicant architects, "Give us something the PM can live in, can play host in; that allows for tight security; that would look good on a postcard; and that's original without being wacky," then the architects can deliver. The ROM didn't do that, seemingly.

          • Why do we have to destroy 24 Sussex to make something new ? Why can't we simply build something new ? I have no doubt that a private company would buy 24 Sussex and fix it, finding a new use for it. How about making it into a hotel, how cool would that be ? You could sleep in the Prime Ministerial bed.

            President Mitterrand wanted to leave his mark on France for generations to come. So he commissioned and built 'la Pyramide du Louvre'. Not everybody liked it at first, but it has grown on people. It is a huge modernist contrast to the historical buildings around it, but it works. The architect had a vision that he carried though on – quite a beautiful one, I think.

            So what do we do ? In the most transparently derivative way possible, we attach a sideways pyramid to the ROM – only we don't even get that right, because, instead of being a pure steel and glass structure like La Pyramide, totally transparent, radiating light at night, this structure is mainly opaque, and seems to be a copy of work done by the architect (Libeskind) for Denver's art gallery. It looks like the pyramid caps attached to Master Pain a.k.a. Betty in Kung Pow ! Enter the Fist and is just as ridiculous. And in no way original.

          • That's a great point about not needing to demolish 24 Sussex just because you want the land. If we're willing to pony up for $12 million, surely we could scrounge up some land downtown.

            What about Laurier House? That's a beautiful building, it's all the PM really needs (cf. Laurier, King), it's likewise very close to the Hill, and it's got tradition up the wazoo.

          • Not a bad suggestion, Jack. Still, I'm not against building something new.

    • I'm with you on this, although it looks as though we are lonely voices crying in the wilderness.

      It does seem to be the standard response in Canada: everything old is bad and has to be replaced, especially if it is part of our past. It's all very well to be forward-looking, but if you don't know where you've been, you usually end up running in circles.

  6. I saw this column last year.

  7. I'm no architect but I look forward to seeing the submissions.

  8. Not having been to the residence, I cannot comment on whether it should be modernized or 'improved upon' enough for it to be worthy of the PM's residence. Sounds like THAT option would be too expensive and not get you the requisite square footage needed for receptions, meetings, etc AND a nice home. Perhaps a cluster of buildings, some more public and others more private with the requisite gardens and outdoor spaces would be preferable to some McMansion that would be trying to be all things to all involved parties…Keep the old place in some function, add some new constructions somewhere by some brilliant global architect (Are we so insecure as having ONLY Canadian architects design the thing!?)
    I'm assuming that it is in a residential area where expansion might not be possible. A new sight perhaps?! A sort of PM's compound?! Just a thought… Oh, and something that wouldn't architecturally 'date' too quickly might be nice

  9. Harper should have taken Bill Graham up on his offer to let them stay on at Stornoway until 24 Sussex was shipshape. Instead the taxpayer will now have to pay more?

  10. I have to disagree with Mulletaur. If you ask Canadians about the PM's residence, "24 Sussex" is an address to them, nothing more. They don't know what the building looks like, have never seen the interior, etc. Which means that *because* the physical layout and design is unknown, "heritage" arguments no longer apply.

    • Fair enough, PO. We can move Harper out of 24 Sussex, renovate it, and charge admission to tourists for entry. Harper can pay for his own digs. Actually, his Party is rich, they can pay for his house.

  11. Actually this is a refreshing take on what should be done – yes the PM needs a residence which can be secure and useful for hosting visiting heads of states and other foreign dignitaries. But for 10 million dollars the type of house that could be build would be fantastic – in fact for 2 or 3 million you could probably build a much better house. In fact, why not make it a 'green' house using all the technology and advances that people keep touting that the government needs to implement.

  12. "It has no fire sprinklers. Its walls are lined with asbestos. Its plumbing and wiring would not pass muster in any other house in Ottawa. It is drafty. Its air conditioners make a racket. It has, by all accounts, hideous carpeting on the stairs."

    Hey, that describes my house, too! And a lot of other old beautiful houses in the downtown core (Okay, in truth, I have only a little asbestos where the oil furnace used to be, but the place is drafty).

    Maybe we should raze everyhouse in Ottawa Centre and rebuild the neighbourhood with the same three or four energy efficient house designs, over and over again! Think of the employment! Think of the energy savings! C'mon, use your imagination, dullards!

    Overall, a provocative article. But tone-deaf and not very convincing. Canadians have become pretty attached to what little they have in the way of historical monuments.

  13. Capital plan Wells. I'm rather agnostic on a reno vs tear-down, but definitely think it needs to be dealt with pronto. Also, any way we could get Mike Holmes involved in making-it-right would be fun. Looking forward to the submissions.

  14. It's a little deceptive to mention asbestos, wiring, and a lack of fire sprinklers. Not only does this describe every historic building, but it plays on people's fears and misconceptions. Asbestos is only unsafe when it's disturbed. Left undisturbed, it poses no risk. The same could be said for the wiring (maybe, depending on its condition). A lack of fire sprinklers is irrelevant, because many buildings today are built without sprinkers. Our building code allows it.

  15. There've been questions about what other countries do regarding official residences. Wikipedia actually has a very good article on the subject — where do people find the time — and basically there's no rule. Some countries have combination central administrative building/ residences (White House), some have official residences, some have none and the head of government makes do like the rest of us. My favourite example is the new Chancellery in Berlin, built for Helmut Kohl's sense of scale — it's immense — but abandoned as a residence by subsequent Chancellors. Angela Merkel lives in an apartment near the Pergammon Museum. François Mitterrand never moved out of his private home on rue de Bièvre.

    There's no rule requiring that we have an official residence for heads of government. And while some perceive a "Canadian disease" whose victims destroy all traces of the country's history, I worry about another Canadian disease that involves paying $10 million without asking whether the path we're on is the best path.

    • Thanks PW – I assumed the topic was too arcane for anything to exist out there!

      • Interestingly, not all Canadian provinces provide official residences, even for the Lieutenant Governor. I believe only Quebec does for its head of government – others have to make do with finding their own accomodation. British Columbia provides the beautifully sited Government House for the Lieutenant Governor, for example, but the Premier has to find his own rented accomodation in Victoria, while maintaining his own home in Vancouver.

        It is not clear why there needs to be an official residence for the Prime Minister. State banquets and ceremonies are held at Rideau Hall. It is rare for government meetings of any sort to be held at 24 Sussex. It really isn't analogouts to either the US presidential palace or to No. 10 Downing Street. Both are as much places of business as residences. The British do provide Chequers as a country home, of course, as well, similar (although grander) to Harrington Lake.

  16. If we are going to have an official residence at all at the federal level (and there are some reasons for it, including security requirements these days) I would prefer we let it continue to accumulate the patina of heritage and custom that it has been accumulating over the last almost sixty years. Even if the physical aspects of the house lack some charm (and I would note that in BC it would rank as an ancient building indeed) the fact it has been the home of ten Prime Ministers lends it an aspect of historical importance that can't be replicated in a new building. Each new occupant enters that building cognizant that there are those who have crossed that same threshold before, carrying the same burdens of office, and with the same temporary grasp on power. That physical reminder of the past and the fleeting nature of political life is not something easily replicated – no matter how cleverly designed a new building may be.

  17. Paul, best idea I've hear in ages. There is nothing worth saving in the house at 24 Sussex. Not many Canadians could even describe what the house looks like, and I would bet they couldn't identify it from a photograph. There is no heritage here. Tear it down, start fresh with green technology, make it secure, and something worthy of heritage 200 years from now.

  18. I sure love the old stone houses that people, often city-folk or even foreigners, rejeuvenate in the French country-side. These stone structures are hundreds of years older than 24 Sussex Dr., and they are often magnificantly redone. I realize, however, that chateaux are being abandonned by century-old families because the up-keep becomes impossible.

  19. I am glad the affairs of state are in such fine shape that Mr. Wells deems it important to comment on the state of repair of 24 Sussex. There probably has been a analysis of whether it is better to repair rather than replace with the former winning the day. Why not move the PM into Harrington Lake. I have no idea how close it is to Ottawa but the PM seems to manage staying there all summer. Winter could be quite charming there I am sure.

  20. I am glad the affairs of state are in such fine shape that Mr. Wells deems it important to comment on the state of repair of 24 Sussex. There probably has been a analysis of whether it is better to repair rather than replace with the former winning the day. Why not move the PM into Harrington Lake. I have no idea how close it is to Ottawa but the PM seems to manage staying there all summer. Winters could be quite charming there I am sure.

  21. Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about. Sign me up, Lloyd !

    • I love it when people with lots of letters after their names write in.

        • They went away?

          To be clear: Mr. Alter, B. Arch, OAA, TSA, Pres., ACO (Singin' Doo-Wah Diddy Diddy Down Diddy Do) argues his side well, and obviously I knew a lot of people would feel as he does. I'm certain that two of them are Stephen Harper, who would live in a pine box if it would burnish his populist street cred, and Michael Ignatieff, who is all about fitting in instead of surprising anyone. So Mr. Alter, BAOAATSAPACO (Singin' DWDDDDD) is certain to win this one.

          But I'm not gonna get all flustered just because a guy who advocates for architectural conservancy wants some architecture conserved. I think a lot of people would be a bit surprised to learn you can't build an interesting building for $12 million. I know a lot of rich people in Ottawa, and not a one of them lives in a $12 million house.

          I think a house whose only tenants hate to live in it has failed. I reject the argument that failure should be a protected part of Canada's heritage, although I recognize that it very often is.

          • The bottom line seems to me that it is just a very dull house — dull today, dull in 1868, and dull for the intervening 141 years. There are a dozen houses in Rockcliffe which are cooler. Needless to say I've never been inside, but if the interior makes the exterior look exciting, it's an aesthetic write-off.

            Maybe there's a conservation argument for not demolishing it, but the appeal to tradition fails (Laurier House is much more historic, IMHO) so even if the building is "a part of our heritage," the Prime Minister living in it is not. The status quo argument comes down to saying that having the PM live in a dull, shoddy old building is essential to Canadian identity; a variation on the grand theme of no change, ever, ever, please, please. Given that school of thought, it seems to me that a new, contemporary house for the PM would not only be cheap, practical, and rather uplifting, it is actually an essential first step on the new Canadian Anti-Stodginess Campaign. En avant!

          • Stodginess has actually served us quite well over the years. Perhaps having our Prime Ministers live in a stodgy home will keep them from engaging in the non-stodgy behaviour of the George W. Bushes, Caezar Chavez and Silio Berlusconis of the world. Entertaining as they may be from a distance, it may be better for us to continue our tradition of slightly stodgy politicians leading a slightly stodgy country in a moderately stodgy manner. That, so far, has led us to levels of relative peace and prosperity that seem to remain the envy of most of the world.

            As in most things, so it should probably be with official residences. If it is not necessary to change them, it is necesary that they not be changed (with apologies to Viscount Falkland).

      • I hope that you are not suggesting that the credibility of posts to this site (or contributions to public discourse in general) should be discounted if the authour happens to have some credentials. OTOH I would agree if you are concerned that sometimes people expect automatic recognition just because of the trailing letters.

        I expect that the person that you get your medical advice from has some letters after his or her name, and you would not have it any other way.

        Just to clarify, I would guess that you have at least 2 letters after your name, but you just don't use them as often as Lloyd does.

        My bottom line is that knowledgeable experts do have a place in the world; they should not be discounted or ignored out of hand, nor should they be believed without question or reflection.

  22. When I saw this column, I thought, Wells you need to spend more time outside of the Queensway.

    • You'd swear the Queensway was a loop highway or something — thanks a lot Kady!

      • It's like spending time outside a Mobius strip. Come to think of it, it's eerily like spending time outside a Mobius strip.

        • Needless to say, I had to look up the reference. Some of us outside the Q are not very well educated or well read.
          But now that I understand it, your metaphor nicely reflects my preconceived notions.

      • I wrote beltway the first time.

  23. I'll agree if Paul Wells pays for it.

    • We're paying the money anyway to renovate… I think that's his point.

  24. Advocacy for archtectural preservation seems to routinely involve spending other people's money to satisfy the nostalgic itch of a fervent few.

  25. Advocacy for architectural preservation seems to routinely involve spending other people's money to satisfy the nostalgic itch of a fervent few.

  26. So Paul, have you received any bites yet? Any major architects indicating they are making an effort to put something together for you?

  27. Haha. I doubt it.

    Considering:

    a) This is not a legitimate call for proposals. Anything submitted would have no chance of being actualized, but some chance at getting published. He might get some students.

    b) Wells just childishly insulted architects everywhere (Doo-Wah Diddy Diddy Down Diddy Do)

    c) Architects actually like buildings, believe it or not, especially if they are nationally significant, 141 year old limestone beauties.

    d) Anyone who claims to be able to design and build a revolutionary, 'green', national landmark for under 12 million dollars is definitely not a 'major' architect of any sort and is probably lying about the cost.

  28. Canada's "First Family"? Even putting aside the adoption of an odious republican Americanism, It's the family of a prime minister you're talking about, not any head of state. And, as such, the incumbent doesn't warrant the use of a palace. Fix up 24 Sussex and be done with it; there's no use disguising republicanism behind an architectural facade.

  29. Years ago while living in Ottawa and walking around Parliment Hill… i thought that the parking lot below the Supreme Court and House of Commons should be used for other means. Why not build a 500 unit apartment building there to house MP's and senators? Rather then giving allowances for living/housing expenses and having members live throughout the region, the government should build one centralized structure close to where they work. Build something worthy of awe, yet doesn't overtower the supreme court and parliment buildings. Perhaps MP's would respect and listen to each others opinions more if they not only worked together, but lived together also. Give the PM the penthouse suite.

    • How many people would upgrading of 24 Sussex employ? Perhaps a few dozen trades-people at any given time. Put a few thousand to work building a bigger project that allows for government as a whole to become more efficient. The individual MP costs for scattered housing and the drivers to move from all around Ottawa to the Hill is not a small government expenditure. As it stands today…do the children of Liberal/Conservative/Bloc/NDP MP's know each other? Imagine housing government members in one structure under family floor lines rather then government partisan lines. Give MP's with big families bigger units inside such a building. Singles could live on certain floors and families on others. Have a common area for the building members and the public at large that is great and inspiring and open. The tone inside the House of Commons would change instantly under such a project. Aside from this new "MP Place" concept, perhaps the MP's should have a common camp area for summer and common chalet area for winter. So the ability to get fresh air from Ottawa working/living conditions are there.

  30. How about the best of both ideas?

    Find a suitable location (other than 24 Sussex), knock down whatever is there and build something fabulous, something worthy, something that meets all the needs. Set your budget at $1.00 per Canadian, I'll send my portion today.

    Then when its done whoever replaced Ignatieff / Harper can move in and 24 Sussex can be fixed up a bit and turned into a museum or something similar: a monument of sorts to the Prime Ministers of Canada.

  31. Hehehe it never ceases to amaze me how Canadians are so cheap on some things.

    "12 million for a PM's rez? Outrageous! Put him and the family in a motel 6! If that's not good enough, he can bugger off"
    – typical Canadian voter.

    There's a very good reason the damned building is falling down (see above quote). No opposition leader would be able to resist calling the PM of the day out for building a "Taj Mahal" for himself (even if all he's trying to do is fix the window that's been broken for the last 5 years), while Canadians are getting layed off by the thousand. Cheap, dirty, and oh SO effective politics.

    Unfortunately, this nation of misers will build the PM a new house once the current one literally collapses. Until then, let's hope all our Prime Ministers are good with duct tape, and more importantly, let's hope all foreign dignitaries are hosted over at the GG's pad, and not the PM's.

  32. While debating renovation versus demolition, isn't there always the third option of moving the residence elsewhere? I admit a lot of the prime real estate in Ottawa is already spoken for, but NCC parks and green space are federal land…

    Without getting bogged down deciding where the residence should be, I think there's a distinction that needs to be made between the tradition of the Prime Minister living at 24 Sussex and the heritage associated with the residence. Sure, the building has a history dating back to the mercantile class of early Ottawa. But there's no connection between the building's heritage and a prime ministerial tradition until a little over a half century ago. Does this constitute a Canadian tradition?

    In a country now 142 years old, I suspect creating a new home that embraces Canadian vision and talent, designed specifically for a Prime Minster with various considerations already taken into account, would be looked back upon as a defining moment in history.

    As time passes and future Canadians walk by 24 Sussex, a small plaque would remind them of how very brief a mere 58 years is.

  33. Wells has it right but my question is, "why can't some wealthy donor provide $$$$$ for a new home"? If we have donors available, the taxpayers should not be on the hook. It is time for us to place pride in our Prime Minister's residence and the longer we wait, the more expensive the building will become. We are not wasting any historical building. Perhaps leave it alone & build elsewhere.

  34. wow thos os the most retarded Ive ever heard wow Paul biggest idiot ever if the walls were lined with asbestos they would have had to be out of their long time!! and big deal its the heating system-buy a new one! and once again rip up the blood carpet and put a new one down like wow then at the end-“well ive never actually set foot in the house''-Retard(Aka Paul Wells)

  35. WHAT KIND OF NORMAL HOUSEHOLD HAS FIRE SPRINKLERS?!?!
    None that I know of. And really, this is what Canada is concerned about? No one is concerned about the fact that many people in Canada go WITHOUT a house ?!?! It kills me that some Canadians are more worried about the fact that the person who makes all the calls in this country ( a lot of which we don't agree with) does not have a state of the art home like MOST Canadians don't?! Come on people, get off your high horses and start thinking about the people who could actually use $10 million in this country to buy food because the economy is so terrible.

  36. Let him live in a stall like Jesus. He’s just a person. Not someone who deserves a princes palace.

  37. Who gives a crap. His chef earns more than the citizens who pay his wages.

  38. He’s not my leader. He’s the leader of the Conservative party. Let HIM and his family eat cake.

  39. Has Stevie every asked you what you want? I doubt it. He’s too wrapped up in his self. What a bunch of phychopaths.

  40. Never mind tearing down 24 Sussex. Tear down Capitalism and the psychopaths that sustain it.

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