每日跟讀#499: Justin Trudeau’s Official Home: Unfit for a Leader or Anyone Else
At Canada’s official residence for its prime minister, security cameras keep silent watch over the fences, visitors pass through gates that can block truck bombs and a detail of uniformed Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers patrol day and night.
But the prime minister himself is unlikely to be found inside.
When Justin Trudeau became prime minister three years ago, he took a pass on moving his family into the official residence at 24 Sussex Drive, built in 1868 by an American-born lumber baron. Decades of neglect had turned Canada’s top political address into its most famous home renovation project.
But no recent prime ministers have been willing to commit the tens of millions of dollars it would take to make the stone house habitable again. It would look as if they were spending money on themselves, a politically toxic step in Canada.
Trudeau, 46, who lived at 24 Sussex as a child when his father was prime minister, is no exception.
“No prime minister wants to spend a penny of taxpayer dollars on upkeeping that house,” Trudeau told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. earlier this year.
There was little criticism of Trudeau’s decision to live with his wife and their three children in Rideau Cottage, a relatively modest, two-story red brick house behind Rideau Hall, the house of Canada’s governor general who fulfills Queen Elizabeth II’s duties as head of state.
That is because the official residence’s deteriorating condition is no secret to Canadians, with government reports documenting its decline for more than a decade.
Those reports make grim reading for anyone but a contractor hoping to land the renovation job.
“The building systems at 24 Sussex have reached the point of imminent or actual failure,” one report, by the National Capital Commission, the federal agency that manages official residences, found this year. It rated the residence’s condition as “critical.”
Its wiring, according to the report, has become a fire hazard; the boiler is obsolete; the exterior stonework is crumbling; and the plumbing blocks up regularly.
The building by a pool added by Trudeau’s father is “rotting,” the report said, and air-conditioning comes from inefficient window units that could make it easy for intruders to slip in. Many of those windows need replacement anyway. Everywhere there is asbestos.
On top of all that, the house is ill-suited for official functions. Among the house’s many deficiencies, “the dining room is at the same time too large for a family and too small for state dinners,” the report said.
The current cost estimate to deal with everything (excluding security upgrades): 38 million Canadian dollars ($28.7 million).
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/334262/web/