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Politics Crown corporation to undertake large-scale roof, chimney repairs at Scheer’s official residence

The federal government will put a new roof over the heads of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and his family as part of coming repairs to Stornoway that could end up being in the $100,000 range.

The National Capital Commission (NCC) said it will soon open up bidding to replace the shingles on Stornoway, the official residence of the Leader of the Opposition. The roof repairs on the 105-year-old house were scheduled to be completed in 2019, but the NCC said damages from a recent wind storm forced the agency to speed up the work.

The NCC will use the opportunity to repair the masonry on one of the chimneys of the residence, spokeswoman Jacqueline Théoret said.

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The final tab will be known after the Crown corporation closes the bidding process, but federal officials said the project will certainly cost tens of thousands of dollars, and could potentially be in the $100,000 range.

Mr. Scheer has waged attacks in recent weeks over the costs of renovations and upgrades to Harrington Lake, another official residence maintained by the NCC and used by the prime minister of the day.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid for a new swing set and sauna, but the installation was carried out by the NCC, the federal agency responsible for all official residences.

“Justin Trudeau is charging Canadians over $90,000 to upgrade his summer home,” the Conservative Party said in a Twitter post last month, calling Harrington Lake “Justin Trudeau’s summer retreat.”

On Thursday, Mr. Scheer’s office said coming work at Stornoway was not comparable.

“These are standard upgrades to maintain the function and safety of the residence. They are in no way comparable to the luxury items the Prime Minister had installed at Harrington Lake for his own personal enjoyment at taxpayers’ expense,” Conservative spokesman Brock Harrison said.

The Prime Minister’s Office said that “unlike Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives,” it will not engage in personal attacks over the cost of upgrades and repairs to taxpayer-owned homes.

“We rely on the NCC for their work on official residences; after all, they are the experts responsible for the operations and maintenance of these facilities,” PMO spokeswoman Eleanore Catenaro said.

Mr. Scheer was the Speaker of the House from 2011 to 2015, when he lived at another official residence, called the Farm, in the Gatineau Hills.

In the 2011-12 fiscal year, the NCC said that it spent $23,000 on exterior and interior painting at the Farm, as well as $12,000 to install new kitchen countertops, sinks and faucets. The veranda was repaired at a cost of $9,000 and a new water-treatment system was installed for $10,000 that year as well.

The controversy surrounding the work at Harrington Lake has reinforced the impression that repairing the Prime Minister’s official residence, at 24 Sussex Dr. in Ottawa, will continue to be a political hot potato for the government.

In 2008, the auditor-general found the building to be in poor shape − with cracked windows, aging wiring and deficient plumbing − and in need of $10-million worth of repairs. The same report said that four other official residences in the Ottawa area needed nearly $2-million in renovations.

The estimated price tag to renovate 24 Sussex has since gone up four-fold, in large part because of security requirements. It is not known what the estimated cost is at this point of renovating the other official residences.

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