I don't have a subtitle for this one because the main heading really covers all my bases for this post. I don't want to give away ALL my jokes and snark before you've even read the post, after all. So according to the NCC-1701, the warp drive at 24 Sussex needs to have the dilithium crystals...yeah, ok not all that funny. Right, the NCC has inspected the PM's residence and found it to be in need of repairs (thing hasn't had major work done since the 1950s, save the roof in '98!), but token spokesperson has decreed on his behalf that the Harpers have no intent of moving out of the place before the next election. Is he afraid that living anywhere else would be some sign of weakness? Is he going to have one last laugh at whoever defeats him in an election by railroading them into taking leave of the place so it can get the attention it needs? Or is he, like a climate change skeptic, refusing to accept that his home needs maintenance if it is to remain vibrant and viable? Whatever the reason, his stance is not that of a world-class leader (not that we've grown to expect world-class leaders here, but still!). It's possible, however unlikely, that he may be playing the humility card, and refusing renovations on the grounds that he is a servant of the people and cannot accept taxpayer dollars being spent on his home. Coming from anyone in a position of power such as his, one who flies himself and his cabinet to Afghanistan and back for photo ops on taxpayers' money, well that's rich at the least and likely bullshit. Maybe I'm reading too much into this and he doesn't want to shake his family up for the sake of something petty, like, say CRUCIAL RENOVATIONS! Honestly, they should just wait until the next time Harper visits somewhere on state business and then get Debbie Travis to revamp the place while he's gone!
I digress. The world-class leader should not cling onto an outmoded building, especially one in need of repair. That house belongs to Canada, and not to Stephen Harper. He occupies it at the discretion of the citizens of this country, and should be expected to keep it in good condition during his tenure. Putting aside the question of how much luxury he should be afforded on our tab, I think it's our responsibility to keep important buildings and residences in good working order, and in such a state as to reflect a stable, civilized democracy. If we don't consider it of paramount importance to keep the PM comfy, then we should do away with 24 Sussex entirely, as a shoddy official residence is hardly a seemly thing to have in a country. If we want the PM to live as the people do, then we should simply have the Federal Government buy up a number of local houses in good repair to house government officials who need a homestead here. I think the bottom line is that any official residence should be in good repair. If we don't like the price tag, then we have to downsize.
Actually, I'm surprised that good ol' 24 Sussex drive is still standing. Not due to any structural defect, but you'd almost expect Stephen Harper to demolish it and build a new one in its stead, you know, just to drive home the message that his is Canada's “New Government” (the words “liberal”, “stench”, “swept” and “away” would likely enter into the press release somewhere). Maybe build it significantly to the west of where it stands now, you know, because he's subtle about things like that. Hell, maybe the present need for renovations should be taken as an opportunity to build more contemporary lodgings for the PM!
I understand that there is a serious roadblock, namely the metric tonne of tradition which even (especially?) the dumb parts of our political process are ensconced in, but I think I'm on to something here. The “fair to poor” condition of 24 Sussex and Rideau Hall are as good an excuse as we will EVER get to embody a unique Canadian identity in our buildings. I doubt it's a good enough excuse to knock these historic buildings down outright (no excuse ever could be, not even a Dane Cook-esque implementation of those orange construction pylons), and on top of this I think they are Heritage sites and impossible to break. Additions and major renovations outside the scope of simple repair are probably not as blatantly impossible, and perhaps – dare I say it – plausible, so long as someone submitted the right proposal. This is a chance to challenge fresh Canadian talents to put their skills to use, and figure out just what it is we want to say to the world when they visit us. To anyone still hung up on tradition, may I ask why having some contemporary Canadian architecture on display at 24 Sussex or Rideau Hall would be a bad idea? The Flying Spaghetti Monster* forbid that we should assert through architecture that Canadians are in charge of Canada!
I think that besides the really pretty ones (National gallery, Museums of Nature and Civilization, Parliament, etc.) we should ALWAYS look at the need for maintenance as a chance to revitalize our landmark buildings, and to incorporate a sense of Canadian identity into the visual landscape of our cities...
...even if that “identity” just turns out to be a politically-correct pastiche of every other culture out there.
*As an Atheist, I'm trying to cut down on my use of “God”, but I need an equivalent exclamation to make a point sometimes, hence I have turned to pastafarianism for the answer.