The prime minister’s official residence at 24 Sussex may be one of the most iconic buildings in Canada, but a new study says the aging heritage building “falls far short” when compared to Canada’s allies.
The report prepared by the National Capital Commission (NCC), entitled Preliminary Functional Programming Report, suggests the residence is “ill-suited to receiving official visitors” and that a new facility dedicated to official government affairs, international diplomacy and visits “presents better branding of Canada as a G7 member and world player.”
The report estimates 24 Sussex, which the prime minister has opted not to live in, needs roughly $36.6 million worth of repairs. To tear it down and rebuild, the NCC has estimated, would cost at least $40 million dollars.
While there are no architectural plans, the document does outline what a new, larger facility should look like. It states a new residence should be at least 15,550 square feet – not counting the specialized security areas – with 76 per cent of the space dedicated to official government use and 24 per cent dedicated to the prime minister’s private residence.
The bigger space should be large enough to host indoor events for 125 people, sit down dinners for 30 to 50 people, have commercial and pastry kitchens (along with prep spaces) and have space for staff to prepare for their shifts and take a break. The private side of the building, meanwhile, is recommend to have four children’s rooms, three guest rooms, at least two offices, a yard and BBQ space, and a private suite with a sitting room and a primary bathroom.
“This is the furthest we have come in this process,” said Leslie Maitland, the past president of Heritage Ottawa. “Before the NCC was wedded to the idea of doing something to the building at 24 Sussex to put the prime minister in there. Now they seem to be moving away from that.”
Maitland has been following the developments at 24 Sussex for years. She said the project is about Canadian pride and creating “appropriate places symbolic of your state and nation.”
When it comes to the heritage aspect of the home and preserving the building itself, Maitland said the priority should be protecting and honouring the waterfront site.
“It really is one of the most majestic views in the National Capital Region,’ Maitland said. “It is a highly symbolic landscape.”
Construction on 24 Sussex began in 1867 and for 75 years it was occupied by lumber barons. In 1949, the federal government purchased the property and began what the NCC calls “the most recent work of an extensive nature.” Two years later, in 1951, Louis St-Laurent moved in, becoming the first Canadian prime minister to make 24 Sussex their official residence.
“If you look at it as a symbol of a country is a sad symbol, there’s nothing else in this country that we would treat this way,” said Benjamin L. Shinewald, the president and chief executive officer of BOMA Canada.
The report suggests that like other official residences across the globe, Canada has entered a cycle of under-investment, resulting in the building entering a “state of poor condition requiring an infusion of money to remain functional.” So far, between 2009 and 2019, more than $6.5 million has been spent on renovations, with 95 per cent of the capital investments spent on infrastructure improvements.
“It ain’t working right now. Let’s find a new way and let’s be bold about it,” Shinewald said.
The findings prepared by the National Capital Commission where tabled before its board of directions in 2021, but only recently released to the public through an Access to Information Request.
For now, the information in the report represent possibilities since no decision on what to do with the building have been made.
Montreal sauna suspected origin of Canada’s monkeypox outbreak: doctors – Global News
The country’s first two cases were reported by Quebec public health officials on May 19.
Dr. Robert Pilarski, a general physician in Montreal, who treated one of those patients last week, said the individual likely got the virus from a sauna he recently visited.
“He actually got it from G.I. Joe. So this is the suspected epicentre of the epidemic,” Pilarski told Global News.
Another doctor, who did not wish to be identified, also said the source of Montreal’s monkeypox outbreak was Sauna G.I. Joe.
Government officials have so far stayed clear of confirming the origin of monkeypox in Canada due to concerns of privacy and stigmatization.
“As it was the case with COVID-19, we never confirm publicly outbreaks for both privacy and identification matters,” Jean Nicolas Aubé, a spokesperson for Montreal public health, told Global News in an emailed response.
“Rest assured that we always intervene directly with businesses or settings where an outbreak occurs or where our investigation could lead us,” Aube added.
Quebec confirms 25 cases of monkeypox, plans to administer vaccine
Despite multiple attempts and inquiries from Global News about health regulations and tracing measures, there was no response from Sauna G.I. Joe by the time of publication.
Recent cases of monkeypox around the world have researchers scrambling to find out how the virus is spreading in countries that typically don’t see it.
Monkeypox, a rare zoonotic infectious disease, is usually found in certain parts of Africa, where it is endemic.
What started out as a small cluster of cases in Quebec is now being called a “serious outbreak” of the virus by provincial health officials.
As of Thursday, 25 cases have been confirmed in the province and about 20 to 30 suspected cases are under investigation.
The majority of confirmed cases in the province are tied to men aged between 20 and 30 years, who have had sexual relations with other men. There has been one case in a person under 18.
Monkeypox is not considered a sexually-transmitted infection, but the virus can survive on surfaces such as bedding and is transmitted through prolonged close contact.
“It’s not sexual activity as such that transmits it. It’s skin-to-skin contact that transmits it as far as we know at this moment,” said Dr. Michael Libman, a tropical disease expert and professor of medicine and infectious disease at McGill University.
Scientists trying to identify origins of Monkeypox cases detected in Canada
Stigmatization and transparency
Cases of monkeypox started emerging in Europe earlier this month.
Montreal public health said it had alerted physicians about a week before the first cases were confirmed. It also contacted “local actors” and communicated advice on hand hygiene and environmental cleaning procedures, Aubé said.
According to social media posts, Sauna G.I. Joe hosted a sex party on May 19, the same day Canada confirmed its first cases of monkeypox.
During a press conference on Thursday, Quebec public health officials said they do not think it’s necessary to single out locations over fears of “stigmatization,” adding that there are now measures in place.
“The enemy is the virus, not the people affected,” said Dr. Luc Boileau, Quebec’s interim public health.
However, experts stress that there should be greater transparency and omitting key public health information can be problematic.
Monkeypox is not a sexually-transmitted infection, WHO says
David Brennan, research chair in gay and bisexual men’s health at the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN), believes not disclosing information can have a negative impact on the community.
Hiding information could be interpreted as “men having sex with men is bad,” said Brennan.
There needs to be a culture shift and harm-reduction approach as has been the case in the past with sexually-transmitted infections, such as HIV/AIDS, added Nolan Hill, gay men’s health specialist at the Center for Sexuality in Calgary, Alta.
“I think it really does speak to this broader culture where we’re uncomfortable with the idea of sex and we’re uncomfortable talking about sex,” he said.
What is monkeypox and how is it transmitted?
Outside of Quebec, only one other case of monkeypox has been confirmed in Toronto.
On Saturday, Toronto Public Health (TPH) identified two locations connected to possible cases of monkeypox: Axis Club and Woody’s bar.
Kerry Bowman, a professor of bioethics and global health at the University of Toronto, said these details matter, especially when it comes to higher risk settings.
“I would argue it is important to identify where it is coming from because if you don’t then people are not in a position to protect themselves,” he said.
However, disclosing that information comes with the “added responsibility” of not feeding into any prejudice, Bowman added.
Federal public health officials are working to finalize and release guidance on case identification, contact tracing, isolation as well as infection prevention and control.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says this updated guidance will be released in the next few days.
Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said Thursday mass vaccinations are not yet needed, but people can avoid infection by maintaining physical distance, masking and hand hygiene.
Monkeypox: 26 confirmed cases in Quebec, Ontario, officials recommend physical distancing
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Supreme Court of Canada to rule on sentencing for Quebec City mosque shooter
The high court decision in Alexandre Bissonnette’s case will determine the constitutionality of a key provision on parole eligibility in multiple murder convictions.
Bissonnette pleaded guilty to six charges of first-degree murder in the January 2017 assault that took place just after evening prayers.
In 2019, Bissonnette successfully challenged a 2011 law that allowed a court, in the event of multiple murders, to impose a life sentence and parole ineligibility periods of 25 years to be served consecutively for each murder.
A judge found the provision unconstitutional but did not declare it invalid, ultimately ruling Bissonnette must wait 40 years before applying for parole.
Quebec’s Court of Appeal struck down the sentencing provision on constitutional grounds and said the parole ineligibility periods should be served concurrently, meaning a total waiting period of 25 years in Bissonnette’s case.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2022.
The Canadian Press
‘Always hope’: Remains of Cree woman sent home to Alberta decades after disappearance
Violet Soosay’s search for her missing aunt began four decades ago.
The pursuit took her to parts of Alberta and B.C. and down paths of uncertainty as weeks, months and years passed without word of Shirley Ann Soosay.
On Friday, about 43 years after she was last heard from, the body of Shirley Ann Soosay is expected to be returned to her home community of Samson Cree Nation, south of Edmonton.
Her remains had been buried in a California cemetery in 1980 under the name Kern County Jane Doe. Last spring, the county sheriff’s office identified the remains as belonging to 35-year-old Soosay.
Violet Soosay has worked since then with the county coroner’s office and the California cemetery to transport the body back to Alberta.
“Now there’s closure. There’s healing that can start happening,” Violet Soosay said in a phone interview.
The website for the American non-profit group DNA Doe Project says the Jane Doe’s body was found in an almond orchard near Bakersfield, Calif., in July 1980. She had been sexually assaulted and stabbed.
Wilson Chouest was convicted of killing the Jane Doe, along with another unidentified woman in 2018.
Violet Soosay said she last saw her aunt in 1977 at a family funeral. She remembers her as caring, supportive and a free spirit.
“That was my constant memory that I kept because it gave me that sense of connection,” she said.
Shirley Ann Soosay was close with her mother and had maintained regular contact with her, whether it was through holiday cards or letters, said Violet Soosay. The last correspondence came in 1979.
“After that, she just disappeared. Nobody knew. My grandmother was very frantic and heartbroken. She knew something happened.”
A few years later, Violet Soosay said she promised her grandmother she would bring Shirley Ann Soosay home. Her grandmother died in 1991.
In early 2020, Violet Soosay said she came across an artist’s rendering of the Jane Doe on a Facebook post from the DNA Doe Project. She believed the woman was her aunt.
The volunteer organization formed in 2017 to help identify unidentified deceased persons using forensic genealogy. The Kern County Sheriff-Coroner Division contacted the project in 2018 hoping to determine the identity of its Jane Doe.
Dawn Ratliff, the coroner division chief, said her office set up tip lines and worked with media to broadcast stories hoping to identify the woman, but every effort led to a dead end.
“In all the years that we had her, we never received a single inquiry. And at that point I just knew she wasn’t local. But I just didn’t know where she would be from.”
Ratliff said when she eventually heard from Violet Soosay, she asked her to submit a DNA sample. It was processed and compared to DNA they had from the remains. The two were a familial match.
Violet Soosay said that when she got the call with the results, she was flooded with years of emotions, including frustration, anger and elation.
“It was a crazy moment when I found out that she was my aunty.”
The family is planning to bury Shirley Ann Soosay in a cemetery at Samson Cree Nation.
Violet Soosay said bikers are supposed to follow her aunt’s casket from a funeral home in Wetaskiwin to her final resting place. There will also be a wake with traditional drumming.
Before the body was disinterred in California, the Tule River Tribe performed a ceremony there with prayers and drumming, added Ratliff.
“To be able to restore her name has really been tremendous,” she said.
Violet Soosay said she is grateful for the support and work of Ratliff, investigators and those involved with confirming the identity of her aunt’s remains.
She said she also has a message for Indigenous families with missing loved ones: “There’s always hope. There’s always some way to bring them home.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2022.
Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press
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