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Newly renovated West Block turned over as House of Commons prepares to move

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  • OTTAWA — The newly renovated West Block of Parliament was formally turned over to the speaker of the House of Commons Thursday as Geoff Regan accepted a large, sculpted copper key on behalf of MPs.

    “If this is the key, I want to see the size of the lock,” Regan quipped as he was handed the symbolic lock-turner by Public Services Minister Carla Qualtrough at a ceremony just outside the temporary Commons chamber the building now holds.

    While a few finishing touches remain, including installing the desks where MPs will debate legislation over at least the next decade, the renovations to the stately 19th-century building are all but complete.

    Members of Parliament are set to move out of the Centre Block, which will undergo its own massive upgrade, over their Christmas holiday break and begin deliberating government business in the transformed West Block once they return on Jan. 28.

    The West Block renovation took seven years, with a price tag approaching $1 billion.

    “On budget and on schedule,” Qualtrough highlighted as she spoke of the redesign.

    Refurbishing Parliament’s Centre Block, including the intricate cleaning and restoration of its exterior stones, is expected to take at least a decade.

    Renovations to West Block have “brought together the old with the new,” capturing the history of the stone heritage building while incorporating new technologies, including a glass ceiling over the temporary Commons that is designed to capture heat in the winter and expel it in the summer, Qualtrough said as she stood inside the still-new-smelling interim House.

    “The idea that the heat is captured by the ceiling and then distributed across (the floor) really helps reduce the (energy) output,” said Qualtrough.

    “And then in the summer the heat that accumulates in the roof can be vented to reduce air-conditioning expenses,” added assistant deputy public services minister Rob Wright, who has helped lead the renovation project.

    The building was also designed to be more accessible, including ramps into a new welcome centre built below ground between the west and centre blocks where visitors will go through security screening before entering.

    The West Block building was constructed between 1859 and 1906 and included a centre courtyard. Including that green space in the renovation’s design, along with four new levels below ground, has nearly doubled the building’s usable space to 26,000 square metres.

    Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press


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    National

    Feds poised to bolster RCMP accountability

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  • OTTAWA — The federal government is poised to try to improve RCMP accountability by placing some external eyes on the national police force.

    Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki are expected to announce the plans at a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday.

    The long-anticipated move is the latest attempt at rebuilding the force following years of sagging morale over internal bullying and harassment.

    Insiders say the measures to be announced Wednesday are the beginning of a process that involves several steps to ensure the force benefits from independent advice and scrutiny.

    The announcement will represent the Liberal government’s response to two critical 2017 reports.

    In the first, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP said the force lacked both the will and the capacity to address the challenges that afflict its workplaces.

    The commission urged the government to usher in civilian governance or oversight for the paramilitary-style police force.

    The second report, a review by former auditor general Sheila Fraser of four harassment lawsuits from female members, also called for substantial reforms.

    At the time, Goodale said both reports described “similar serious and long-standing concerns” and would “inform further action” to ensure that the RCMP is a healthy and respectful employer.

    Lucki became the RCMP’s first permanent female boss last year when she took over the commissioner’s post from Bob Paulson.

    Before he left, Paulson delivered an apology to hundreds of current and former female officers and employees who were subjected to discrimination and harassment dating back as far as four decades.

    The words of regret came as the Mounties settled class-action lawsuits stemming from allegations that cast a dark pall over the force.

    The Trudeau government has directed Lucki to modernize and reform the RCMP’s culture, protect employees from harassment and workplace violence, and foster reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

    Goodale’s mandate letter to Lucki, issued last year, also asked her to make the force representative of Canada’s diverse population by embracing gender parity and ensuring that women, Indigenous members and minority groups are better reflected in positions of leadership.

    Another priority is implementing measures to improve health and wellness after an auditor’s report found the force was failing to meet the mental-health needs of its members due to a lack of resources, poor monitoring and meagre support from supervisors.

    Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press


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    National

    Feds poised to bolster RCMP accountability

    Published

    on

    If you like this, share it!




  • OTTAWA — The federal government is poised to try to improve RCMP accountability by placing some external eyes on the national police force.

    Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki are expected to announce the plans at a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday.

    The long-anticipated move is the latest attempt at rebuilding the force following years of sagging morale over internal bullying and harassment.

    Insiders say the measures to be announced Wednesday are the beginning of a process that involves several steps to ensure the force benefits from independent advice and scrutiny.

    The announcement will represent the Liberal government’s response to two critical 2017 reports.

    In the first, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP said the force lacked both the will and the capacity to address the challenges that afflict its workplaces.

    The commission urged the government to usher in civilian governance or oversight for the paramilitary-style police force.

    The second report, a review by former auditor general Sheila Fraser of four harassment lawsuits from female members, also called for substantial reforms.

    At the time, Goodale said both reports described “similar serious and long-standing concerns” and would “inform further action” to ensure that the RCMP is a healthy and respectful employer.

    Lucki became the RCMP’s first permanent female boss last year when she took over the commissioner’s post from Bob Paulson.

    Before he left, Paulson delivered an apology to hundreds of current and former female officers and employees who were subjected to discrimination and harassment dating back as far as four decades.

    The words of regret came as the Mounties settled class-action lawsuits stemming from allegations that cast a dark pall over the force.

    The Trudeau government has directed Lucki to modernize and reform the RCMP’s culture, protect employees from harassment and workplace violence, and foster reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

    Goodale’s mandate letter to Lucki, issued last year, also asked her to make the force representative of Canada’s diverse population by embracing gender parity and ensuring that women, Indigenous members and minority groups are better reflected in positions of leadership.

    Another priority is implementing measures to improve health and wellness after an auditor’s report found the force was failing to meet the mental-health needs of its members due to a lack of resources, poor monitoring and meagre support from supervisors.

    Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press


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    january, 2019

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