Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The FIVE billion dollar boondoggle

No party in Canada, except for those who have never been elected, can get away with this one; and it's a disgrace.   Every building needs to be renovated sooner or later, even legislatures, but this one has gotten out of hand.

The Parliament of Canada, three Gothic Revival buildings on Wellington Street in Ottawa (actually it's four if you count the Confederation Building -- where most MPs have their offices -- next to the West Block ) have stood for many decades.   The West and East Blocks date prior to Confederation (when Parliament Hill was originally intended to be the capital for only what we now call Ontario and Québec), the Centre Block dates to the 1920s as a fire destroyed the original (except the Library) during World War I.

About twenty years ago a massive rebuild program was begun to restore the buildings and bring them up to current federal safety and environmental standards.   Original cost and time line:   $65 million and about ten years.    Present estimate:   Five billion dollars ... with twenty years gone and still counting.   Even more incredible, they still haven't gotten to the Senate and House of Commons, which will be in temporary quarters (the courtyards, covered of course, of the East and West Blocks respectively -- which will begin next year, we hope).

And this week we learned that the West Block renos have gone through three sets of stonemasons, and the job is still not done.

Jesus Christ, folks!   When Romania overthrew Nicolae Ceauşescu in 1989, one of the legacies he left behind was a colossal presidential palace, far larger than any executive building ever built anywhere on the planet -- even larger than Versailles.   The people took matters into their own hands and turned into their Parliament, the largest in floor yardage of its kind in the entire European Union if not the planet, and for way way less.   And while the job is still technically not completed yet, they have plenty of room to spare; in fact every MP and Senator there has the kind of office space reserved only for the four party leaders here in Canada.

This is truly unbelievable.   Even the Auditor General says she can't figure out how things got out of control with no checks or balances; neither could her predecessor in the office who warned this was coming a decade ago.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They learned from their predecessors.

The difference of course is that the money wasn't stolen, only squandered.