The House of Commons sits vacant. Workers’ tools are scattered here and there, ready to be picked up as restoration resumes. And yet, it is the ghosts of politicians past who seemingly stir the air.
Dust eddies as I stand at the temporary bar for the liberal party’s Christmas party in the Railway Committee room chatting amicably with then finance minister John Turner about nothing in particular. A later party Christmas event was in the Hall of Honour and I was dancing with a very beautiful young lady and every time we danced by Senator Keith Davey and his wife Dorothy, they would greet us with gales of laughter. I had introduced the young lady to them as my niece. She really was my niece.
Our first stop that December evening was MP Jim Peterson’s office in the West Block where the party was just getting rolling. I don’t think I could list all the people there of whom my niece had only heard. She could only wonder that I wanted Jim Peterson to run against John Turner for the party leadership. I had wondered why even Ontario MPP David Peterson (and soon to be premier) thought it would be great.
I also took my niece by the Centre Block office of my then MP David Smith. We caught him with his shirt off and in suspenders, alone in his office, as he shaved before attending the party. We sat on his secretary’s desk and chatted with him while he finished shaving and put on his shirt and tie.
The tables and chairs from the parliamentary dining room are probably in storage for the years required to refurbish parliament. No doubt the room is full of the worker’s dust. It must also be full of the ghosts of the MPs past who sometimes invited me there to discuss the politics of their ridings over a free lunch. I also assume the carillon is silent these days but I can imagine the ghost of a late friend is waiting there. He loved going to Ottawa to fill in for the regular carillon player.
I am not sure if they are doing anything with the Langevin Block as part of the renovations. I haven’t been there since Pierre Trudeau had his offices there.
But I’m sure the ghost of Pierre Trudeau could find a classier place to haunt.
Copyright 2022 © Peter Lowry
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