24 Sussex Drive is the prime minister’s residence but it belongs to Canadians, not to Justin Trudeau. It’s a public asset that shouldn’t be left to crumble.
So while I understand the political considerations that make it difficult for Trudeau, or any other prime minister, to authorize millions of dollars in spending on a building that would house his family, it’s not an excuse to do nothing. Canadians shouldn’t begrudge their prime minister a safe and comfortable place to live. And 24 Sussex is an important part of Canadian history.
We’re spending hundreds of millions renovating the Parliament Buildings. We shouldn’t overlook the prime minister’s official residence. Some people have suggested taking the decision away from politicians and giving it to an organization like the National Capital Commission. But ultimately, the government is responsible and accountable for any expenditure of taxpayers’ money.
A simpler solution would be this: Justin Trudeau should authorize appropriate renovations but promise never to benefit from them. The next prime minister could be the first tenant of a renovated 24 Sussex. That way, both prime ministers would be spared the political consequences of appearing to spend millions on themselves.