Tag Archives: House of Commons

Goodbye, Hello and a Sad Farewell

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)

An empty House of Commons, December 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

Bruce Addo with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2011

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.

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How Trudeau blew his advantage 

Parliament rose for the summer on June 21, 2017. It was not the best of times for Justin Trudeau; it may have been the worst of times. It may have been the best of times he’ll have compared to what is coming up for him when the MP’s return to Ottawa on September 18, 2017. The reason? Andrew Scheer will be settled into his role as the leader of the Conservative opposition with a shadow cabinet he’ll select. A few weeks later after the return of the house, the NDP will also have a new leader in place to face off against Trudeau.

In my view the period leading from the election to the end of the current session of Parliament should have been clear sailing for the Liberals. They have the majority and what seems the platform the voters wanted and they had the good will of Canadians willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The biggest advantage the Liberals had for the 1st two years was that the leadership of the opposition parties in house at the start of the four-year mandate would not be the same when the election would come in 2019. Form the outset it seemed that there could be nothing to stop the Liberals. I don’t think they ever considered that they would be their own worst enemies.

Rather than get to work and pass the legislation they promised, what has Justin Trudeau done? They’ve backpedaled on their biggest election promise – election reform. The Liberals tried to change parliamentary procedure, not once but twice. Trudeau has been caught vacationing where he ought not to have, fundraised with rules he said on the campaign were unfair and transparent appointments turned to partisan nominations. All of this and more led to disruptions in the house by the opposition, extended attacks in Question Period, numerous votes to “have a speaker be heard”, endless amendments to government bills, filibusters in committee and motions that would take hours to vote on during midnight sittings in the House of Commons.

How could’ve all this happened? One word; underestimation. Trudeau and the Liberals underestimated that Rona Ambrose would rally and unite the Conservatives in opposition. Trudeau underestimated that Tom Mulcair would not go quietly.

While the Liberals underestimated the strength of the Conservatives, they returned to the opposition benches with 30+ new first time MPs who wouldn’t have the legacy of Stephan Harper to defend. The Liberals also got greedy; it caused them to ignore parliamentary tradition and try to ply their muscle at a time when it wasn’t needed. The muscle would be best saved for when both the NDP and Conservatives would be in the House with new leaders.

The first 199 sitting days of the Trudeau mandate were just the warm up for what is about to come. The Conservatives have Andrew Scheer honing his skills this summer as their leader and the NDP have five candidates vying to bring back the honour of Jack Layton (Read: Saving the House that Jack Built). Day 200 of Trudeau 2.0 will come September 18, 2017, that is the day that the real game of politics begins.

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