The federal government paid almost $20,000 to prepare for Candice Bergen’s move into Stornoway, the official residence of the Official Opposition leader, though she holds the role on an interim basis and will need to vacate the home in a matter of months.
According to a summary of transition costs provided by the National Capital Commission, the interim Conservative Leader’s expenses included $3,832.11 for a mattress replacement, $5,202.35 for bed and bath linens, $1,690.17 for “accents/accessories” and $3,426.43 for cleaning and upholstery for the entire residence.
The summary also includes a reference to furnishings and artwork “as required,” at a cost of $4,443.00. The total cost of the preparations was $19,404.36, according to the NCC.
The Conservatives are voting on a new leader on Sept. 10. Ms. Bergen’s term as the party’s interim leader will end soon afterward, and there will be a new occupant of the 34-room home in Ottawa’s tony Rockcliffe neighbourhood.
Most MPs will not be in Ottawa during the latter part of Ms. Bergen’s tenure in Stornoway, because the House of Commons is not sitting between June 23 and Sept. 19.
In a statement on Sunday, Christopher Martin-Chan, a spokesperson for Ms. Bergen, said the interim leader had specifically asked that no extra work be done prior to her moving into the residence, such as repainting or the addition of new furniture and artwork.
“There were no additional move-in costs as the only thing she brought into the house was what fit in her suitcase. The only items changed were linens and one mattress,” the statement said.
Ms. Bergen became interim Conservative Leader in early February, after the party’s previous leader, Erin O’Toole, was ousted by his caucus in a 73-45 vote. Three sources told The Globe and Mail that within days of Mr. O’Toole’s ouster Ms. Bergen asked when he was vacating Stornoway, suggesting she intended to move in. The Globe and Mail is not identifying the sources, because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Mr. O’Toole, his wife, Rebecca, and their two children moved out on March 3, and Ms. Bergen settled into Stornoway on March 11. Mr. O’Toole was taken aback at having to move out so quickly, the sources said.
“The NCC consults with the offices of each future resident of an Official Residence – including Leaders of the Official Opposition destined to live at Stornoway – to determine the timing and logistical details of their move,” commission spokesperson Dominique Huras said in a statement accompanying the list of transition costs.
“Since several factors – including the scope of any maintenance work that may be required – inform how long a transition will take, transition periods vary for each move.”
Ms. Huras said more time would be required to tabulate the costs of moving Mr. O’Toole out of the residence.
Clarissa Schurter, press secretary for Mr. O’Toole, said earlier this week that the former Conservative leader would not comment on the matter.
Stornoway was built in 1913, and became the official residence for the Official Opposition leader in 1950. Conservative leader George Drew and his wife were the first official residents, followed by Lester and Maryon Pearson in 1958.
Stornoway’s upkeep is publicly funded. And the home comes with a chef, also bankrolled by Canadian taxpayers.
The NCC spent about $170,000 on repairs and renovations at Stornoway before Mr. O’Toole moved in with his family, in Sept., 2020.
And when Andrew Scheer, Mr. O’Toole’s predecessor as Tory leader, relocated his family to the Rockcliffe home, the NCC spent about $18,000 on new upholstery, carpet cleaning, mattresses and linens.
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