Laureen Harper kept foster cats at 24 Sussex: report


Laureen Harper kept foster cats at 24 Sussex Dr. and that wasn’t the strangest thing that happened at the Prime Minister’s official residence in Ottawa.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “dozens of cats,” including “special-care felines,” lived in an “upstairs space set aside with litter and toys.”

Imagine, for a moment, the same thing happening at the White House: First Lady Michelle Obama giving a tour to reporters, then opening a door to a room filled with mewling “special-care” cats.

The official residence “shouldn’t be a place where you are embarrassed to have the Group of Seven leaders over for dinner,” Ottawa architect Michael Kilpatrick told the newspaper.

Kilpatrick, who is also an interior designer, said he was involved in a project to renovate the home a few years ago, but it never got off the ground.

There were other notable problems with the home. According to the Wall Street Journal, former prime ministers lived with:

  • heating problems (Too cold in the winter and hot in the summer, Jean Chretien said. He and his wife Aline used electric heaters in the bedroom, but that led to power outages.)
  • leaky roofs, leading to buckets on the living room floor
  • drafty and leaky windows
  • deficient plumbing
  • outdated wiring
  • mold in the basement


In 2008, the National Capital Commission estimated repairs would cost about $10 million and would require full access to the residence for a minimum of 12 to 15 months.

A critical auditor general’s report issued that year said putting off the rehabilitation of the residence could have a number of consequences including “the risk of fostering a negative image of Canada with visiting foreign dignitaries.”

Earlier this week, Justin Trudeau said he wouldn’t move in to 24 Sussex and would instead live with his family at Rideau Cottage.

The 19th-century home is located on the grounds of Rideau Hall and is used as the governor general’s residence. Stephen Wallace, the current secretary to Gov. Gen. David Johnston, moved out on the weekend to allow the Trudeaus to move in.

Meanwhile, Maureen McTeer, wife of former Prime Minister Joe Clark, told the CBC that 24 Sussex Dr. should be torn down.

“An old, crumbling building with asbestos, which we know is poison, [24 Sussex] really is so lacking of vision, if you will, and [does not reflect] who we are as Canadians,” McTeer said.

The last major renovation was in 1951, said McTeer, who has not only lived at an official residence but has also written a book about Canada’s official residences.

She told the CBC the building is “completely lacking” in architectural value, and not worth saving.


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