The Headlines say it all…
Closed for Renovations: The Home of Canada’s Democracy
(Toronto Star Dec. 18, 2018)
Lots of unresolved issues as Centre Block closes
(Penticton Herald Dec. 24, 2018)
The iconic Centre Block is closing indefinitely
(The Globe and Mail Dec. 14, 2018)
Parliament adjourns for 2018, ending a final sitting in Centre Block for a Decade
(CTV News Dec. 13, 2018)
Closing Centre Block: Parliament Prepares to Leave
(CPAC, Dec. 17, 2018)
I have only been working on Parliament Hill for three years, but Centre Block, she is a grand old lady. There are many areas to discover and to halls to wander down. The Library is an essential visit; there is the hall of Prime Minister portraits (including the story of the ‘wall’ between Jean Chretien and Paul Martin). Working there, the committee rooms hold amazing artwork that captures our history, the Peace Tower and the memorial Chamber housing the books of those that have died in wars past.
So much has been written about the “good-bye” to Centre Block that I figure the words on the new home of the House of Commons will be eventually written in January when MPs return to Ottawa. Walking into the House and watching Question Period is always a thrill, I don’t always have to like the answer but its fun to hear the questions. The many halls that take some getting used to may not be missed, but the meeting rooms, the corner offices, the Main Rotunda and the House and Senate Lobbies will certainly be missed. They all have history and a person can get lost in thought when pondering the footsteps of thousands of MPs, Prime Ministers, foreign leaders, Governor Generals and many many many Canadians that might be only a echo in our history – but those steps loom large when you yourself have a chance to walk in Centre Block.
The grand ole building will be missed, but boy oh boy do we have something amazing to call home for the next 10+ years! Say hello the new West Block Chamber and the Senate chamber in the old Ottawa Conference Centre, that before that was the Union Station for trains coming in and out of Ottawa.
The work that has been done is phenomenal, the engineering in adding a major infrastructure within a building is something to behold. The West Block doesn’t have the beauty of 100 years, but it is a beautifully renovated building that will house two large committee rooms that will also serve as the Government and Opposition Caucus meeting rooms. The attention to detail in the West Block is intricate, the use of what were once outside walls to be indoor, the high glass ceiling in the House chambers creates a sense of limitless opportunities for MP’s all add to the awe of what is now our House of Commons.
It is going to take a while to know exactly where the offices of the Prime Minister, Opposition and Third Party are and what is the fastest way to get there. I imagine the many stairs and elevators will lead me astray – I will need a few weeks before I can adequately show guests around the building efficiently.
Luckily I had the chance to walk through the West Block in November. It was difficult to decide if I should take photos or just look at the transformation because you didn’t want to miss anything. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10161038762890858&set=pcb.10161038769540858&type=3&theater
Finally, a goodbye to a giant of a man, Bruce Addo passed away suddenly on Christmas day. He had just started working in the Minister of Environment, Rod Phillip’s office, in Queens Park after the election. I knew Bruce briefly, we worked on the Larry O’Brien campaign in 2010 together in Ottawa, but the memory of him stuck with you. He was a hard person to forget, because he broke the mould on how a political person should act. He never had a bad word for his political opponents, but never shied away from a debate with them.
He had a smile that never quit and time for everyone for a conversation. I don’t need to say more about him, the tributes on Facebook have flowed non-stop since the news of his death. I mentioned to someone that if we all did politics the way Bruce did, Canadians would have a better opinion of politicians. Bruce had a great future in the governing of Ontario and eventually Canada with a Conservative government. He would have gone far, now he is gone far away but his smile will always be near.
We will miss you Bruce.