What can you say about a country where the official residence of the head of government has been allowed to become unlivable? That we have struck a blow for egalitarianism by refusing to keep our prime ministers in taxpayer-funded mansions? That the government looked at its budget and concluded this was not a priority? That the era of providing some semblance of glamour to the job of national leader is over?
We wish something like that were true, because it would mean that allowing 24 Sussex Drive to become a home only a raccoon could love, however sad, was at least done with a deliberate goal in mind.
But that's not the case at all. The official residence of our prime minister is currently vacant because successive occupants have failed to repair and modernize it out of the fear they will be accused of behaving like spoiled monarchs.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed as much last week when he admitted he no longer expects to move into 24 Sussex Drive during his term in office, because it is too fraught for a PM to approve renovations that political opponents always portray as greedy materialism.
The Conservative Party inadvertently confirmed his view last week when it said it would support Mr. Trudeau if he went ahead with renovations, but only if he first repaid the costs of his family Christmas vacation on the private island owned by the Aga Khan – reinforcing the notion that repairs to 24 Sussex are a personal benefit.
Mr. Trudeau is fine in the house he lives in on the grounds of Rideau Hall. He doesn't need 24 Sussex Drive to be comfortable, and he has no intention of playing into the hands of his opponents. Meanwhile, an important and historic Canadian public building continues to moulder.
What's the answer to this? Ottawa is exploring the idea of renovating 24 Sussex Drive and Stornoway, the home of the leader of the opposition, at the same time. That would make it impossible for the opposition to point a finger and shout "Guillotine!"
It's a smart idea. It's about time someone found a way out of this ridiculous mess.