Ministerial Question Period: Parliamentary Precinct

By: The Hon. Andrew Cardozo

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Ceremonial Guard on Parliament Hill, Ottawa

Hon. Andrew Cardozo: Minister, thank you for being with us as the new Minister of Public Services and Procurement. Congratulations on your appointment.

Through your various portfolios, you have become known as “Mr. Fix It,” so I look forward to you being able to fix the issue I want to raise with you. My question is regarding the future of Wellington Street and your responsibilities in the National Capital Region.

There has long been a vision to develop the street into a pedestrian area to enhance the space in front of our important temple of democracy, to turn it into a people friendly plaza that highlights and celebrates our rich history. There is also an important aspect of parliamentary security to making such changes.

The unlawful occupation by the convoy in early 2021 highlighted for us that leaving this space open to cars and trucks was a bad idea, and this highlighted that we badly need to do something positive with this area.

I believe there have been discussions between the Government of Canada and the City of Ottawa —

The Hon. the Speaker: Thank you, senator.

Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Services and Procurement: Thank you very much. That was a great question, and I would have liked to have listened to it completely. Maybe your second chance will make that possible.

You pointed to the right elements: first, safety; second, the precinct versus the city; and third, the important work with the City of Ottawa.

It has been clear over the last few years — and it is increasingly clear — that the safety of parliamentarians, including senators, must be at the centre of the conversation that we’re having with the City of Ottawa on the future of Wellington Street. It is also true that as we see the enhancement and modernization of our parliamentary facilities, we are moving from a precinct to a parliamentary city. That’s good news, I think, for most Canadians. We’ve seen the beneficial outcomes of this in other countries of the world.

Finally, you are quite correct to point out the important relationship that we need to have with the City of Ottawa. I will meet with the mayor quite soon, and I look forward to reporting on the outcome of that meeting.

Senator Cardozo: I still have 45 seconds. I want to suggest a few other ideas to liven up the National Capital Region: create a state-of-the-art science and tech museum downtown; put a portrait gallery in a decommissioned office building; build an arts district and an art studio in the ByWard Market, centred around the National Gallery; and a new graffiti museum.

On 24 Sussex, can you just take that and throw it in with the renovation of Parliament Hill and have the joint all-party committee take care of that, take the politics out of it and make that all happen? Your comments, please.

Mr. Duclos: I think we all value your taking the politics out of such debates. Politics plays an important role in public life, but sometimes it doesn’t do such a great job. Taking the politics out of the vision and the actions around the National Capital Region is, I think, an excellent idea.

I am looking forward to hearing more from you on that short list of things we can do with our social, physical and historical environment in which we have the fortune of working in almost every day.

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