With the closing of Parliament's Centre and East Blocks on the horizon, all those MPs have to go somewhere. And almost a quarter of them are going to move across the street to the newly renovated Wellington building.
The former office of Metropolitan Life Insurance underwent a "complete rehabilitation" over six years at a cost of $425-million. It includes offices for 70 MPs (six of whom have already moved in), multiple committee rooms, a small library and a cafeteria. The building's ribbon-cutting ceremony was held last week, with Public Services Minister Judy Foote and House of Commons Speaker Geoff Regan doing the honours. MPs start moving in once the House rises for the holidays in a couple of weeks.
The Wellington building has solar panels on the roof and a giant "green wall" in the atrium, but its most notable feature may be the colourful mosaic on the way in. American artist Barry Faulkner created the tile art just inside the Wellington-street entrance in 1927 to depict the various ways in which a motherly figure cared for those under her protection. One particularly eye-catching mural shows the woman swinging a sword to protect a bearded man from seven deadly serpents. A government guide last week noted to reporters that the piece represented the life insurance company protecting its customers from the most common illnesses of the day — which included cancer and syphilis.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS MORNING
> As Canada prepares for another major peacekeeping mission to Africa — likely to Mali — more critics are speaking up about the dangers of the antimalarial drug mefloquine, which was given to soldiers sent to Somalia in the 1990s.
> Garry Kasparov — former world chess champion and fierce critic of Vladimir Putin — will be in Ottawa this week to press the government to adopt a Magnitsky law to sanction corrupt Russian officials.
> Syrian refugees who came to Canada on government assistance could have trouble making ends meet when they soon shift from federal to provincial funding.
> Liberal MPs suggest per-vote subsidies for political parties should be brought back, after being eliminated by the previous Conservative government. It might help out the Liberals, as an alternative to their fundraising events. "The general consensus is that it would be one way of avoiding the misconception that you have to sell your soul for fundraising," Liberal MP Alexandra Mendès told The Hill Times.
> At one of those cash-for-access fundraising events, a wealthy Vancouver businessman said he lobbied the Prime Minister directly about immigration rules and Chinese investment in seniors' care. "First of all, we said that in Canada, the government investment for elderly care is not enough. We need to receive the investments from Chinese entrepreneurs to provide for the elderly. The Prime Minister was very happy when he heard that," Miaofei Pan told The Globe.
> David MacNaughton, Canada's ambassador to the U.S., insists there's a lot of room for Mr. Trudeau and president-elect Donald Trump to work together.
> While the Phoenix pay system has cost thousands of public servants their paycheques, it's also overpaid other workers by tens of millions of dollars.
> And an analysis of Elections Canada data by CBC shows Kellie Leitch and Maxime Bernier are the Conservative leadership candidates with the largest fundraising hauls so far — though Mr. Bernier has a much broader base of support than Ms. Leitch.
WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT
John Ibbitson (Globe and Mail): "Why such respectable figures as Mr. Romney, Mr. Huntsman or Gen. Petraeus would want to have anything to do with a president who is so thoughtless and disruptive on Twitter, and who is a positive menace when on the phone, is a mystery, unless they feel a sense of duty to limit the damage to America's reputation that is sure to come."
Margaret Wente (Globe and Mail): "According to studies of U.S. universities, 18 per cent of social-sciences professors say they're Marxists. Only 7 to 9 per cent identify as conservative. Leftism in the academy is a positive feedback loop — and we're now well past the point where the radicals have taken over. Those who don't agree just shut up. 'There's no question there's an atmosphere of terror,' one (older, white, male) professor told me."
Rick Hansen (Globe and Mail): "We have a role to play to change attitudes and remove barriers so that employers are confident and comfortable hiring people with disabilities. Often it is a case of not knowing what they need to do to accommodate — and the answer may be a simple, low-cost change such as adding a ramp, adapting a workstation or incorporating large signage and braille."
Chantal Hébert (Toronto Star): "That is not to say that, in the event that the government ditches the promise that the 2015 election was the last one fought under the current system, New Democrat efforts to wave the reform flag would not pay off. A broken Liberal promise on this front could bring lapsed NDP supporters back to the fold."
Andrew Coyne (National Post): "By way of contrast [to electoral reform], let us consider how the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement — another big, complicated proposal for change — came into being. The Mulroney government received much expert advice, notably from the Macdonald Royal Commission on the Economy, recommending it pursue a free trade deal. It agreed, consulted widely, entered negotiations and reached an agreement. It did not sit around waiting for a 'consensus' to magically materialize on what the treaty should contain. Neither did it issue vapid questionnaires asking the public what 'values' they would like to see reflected in some hypothetical trade deal. It put a concrete proposal before the people, ran on it and won. In a word, it led."
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Compiled by Chris Hannay. Edited by Steven Proceviat.