As the government develops plans for the future of 24 Sussex Drive, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre says fixing or replacing the dilapidated and unoccupied official residence would be the last item on his agenda if he was prime minister.
Poilievre, who currently resides in the taxpayer-funded official residence Stornoway, told reporters Tuesday that plans for the place that right now only rodents call home, would be near, if not at the bottom of his priority list.
“We don’t need a new home for the prime minister, we need a new home for working class Canadians,” he said, accusing Trudeau of being too focused on “building mansions for himself,” citing past renovations done to the secondary prime ministerial property Harrington Lake.
What to do with 24 Sussex Drive is back in the news following a report from Radio-Canada citing unnamed sources that the federal government was considering abandoning the building as the prime minister’s official residence and building something bigger and more secure on another plot of land in the nation’s capital.
Public Services and Procurement Minister Jean-Yves Duclos’ office would not confirm to CTV News that this is a plan being considered, but in a statement, said they “continue to work closely with the National Capital Commission to develop a plan for the future of 24 Sussex Drive.”
This spring, Duclos’ predecessor in the portfolio told a committee of MPs that the federal government would unveil its plans for the future of the 155-year-old residence by the fall.
The 34-room, 10,000-square-foot mansion has sat empty since former prime minister Stephen Harper and his family moved out of what then was already a house in need of major repairs, following his 2015 election defeat.
Trudeau and his family opted to move into what he has called the “smaller but better” Rideau Cottage given the state of disrepair 24 Sussex was in after past occupants continually deferred the multi-million dollar fixes needed.
Now in “critical condition,” without intervention to address the rodent infestation, mould, asbestos, and the hazardous electrical system, it remains “uninhabitable” for humans, according to the National Capital Commission.
When asked what he thinks the appropriate accommodations for a prime minister should be, Poilievre said they “should be reasonable and practical to provide for the ability to receive dignitaries… and most important of all, have security.”
The Conservative leader suggested many of the buildings currently in the parliamentary precinct could be used for bigger events and that where the prime minister calls home should be “a very basic, secure place where a prime minister can live safely, at a reasonable cost to taxpayers.”
Former prime minister Jean Chretien said earlier this year that he’d like to see the house he once resided in repaired rather than demolished, but acknowledged the perceived political hot potato that the issue has been for successive prime ministers. Chretien has previously said the refusal to repair the crumbling official residence makes Canada look like “a bunch of cheap guys.”
With files from CTV News’ Annie Bergeron-Oliver and Kevin Gallagher
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