We need a three-quadrant PM
This is not a column about fixing 24 Sussex Drive! But it does start there. Somebody asked Pierre Poilievre about the prime minister’s decrepit official residence. Honestly it’s hard to imagine any politician answering differently from the way he answered:
“Of my list of priorities, this will probably be the last,” the opposition leader said when asked about reported plans to replace the traditional prime minister’s residence at 24 Sussex Drive. “We don’t need a new home for the prime minister; we need a new home for working-class Canadians,” Poilievre said, throwing in an impatient who-needs-to-be-told-this? head shake. “The prime minister has had one mansion where his food is cooked, another mansion where he lives, a third mansion on a lake — and that wasn’t enough for him so he built a second lakefront mansion with our money, at Harrington Lake. He’s been so focussed on building mansions for himself that he’s forgotten to get homes built for hardworking Canadians.”
The whole clip is worth watching — it becomes clear Poilievre is improvising; he pretty much talks himself out of the need to “receive dignitaries” at an official residence — but I’ve quoted the part that made me decide to write to you today.
Again, I suspect Poilievre played this issue the way anyone advising any party leader would have advised. It’s hard to imagine an aspiring leader saying, “You bet I’m going to put my own housing needs ahead of yours!” Justin Trudeau didn’t say that in 2014. Stephen Harper didn’t in 2003. Paul Martin never promised to fix 24 Sussex and neither did Jean Chrétien.
Which helps explain why it’s such a rat-corpse-infested dump today, come to think of it.
As I said, this isn’t really a column about 24 Sussex. What set me off was Poilievre’s opening gambit: the notion that on his “list of priorities,” official residences wouldn’t rank.
Here’s my question. Does he think the universe really cares what a leader’s priorities are? When it’s raining shit, does the shit abstain from falling on countries whose leaders have different priorities?