By ANGUS REID INSTITUTE
January 23, 2023 – As the National Capital Commission prepares to begin abatement work on 24 Sussex Drive this spring, the future of the prime minister’s official residence – not occupied by one since 2015 – is in serious doubt.
The federal government has yet to decide what to do with the dilapidated dwelling of the prime minister. However, new data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds half of Canadians (50%) oppose renovating 24 Sussex at the estimated cost of $36 to $38 million. Still, a plurality (41%) believe that to be the best solution, while a further third (33%) say it’s best to knock it down and build a modern home and office for the prime minister.
Amid the high costs of maintaining official residences, some of which date back to confederation, there appears to be little appetite among Canadians for taxpayers to fund homes for political figures other than the prime minister.
Seven-in-ten (69%) believe the government should foot the bill for a house for the prime minister, but fewer believe the governor general (39%), leader of the opposition (25%), or the speaker of the house (19%) should receive publicly funded housing. Though not as significant as the bill for 24 Sussex, all of the official residencies for those positions also currently have seven-figure deferred maintenance costs hanging over them.
Perhaps the biggest barrier to the required renovations has been fear of political fallout. Two-thirds (64%) of Canadians believe this to be the case, saying recent federal governments have failed to maintain the prime minister’s residence “because they are afraid of the public backlash.” However, just half (49%) who say federal governments let 24 Sussex fall into disrepair because they were afraid of the political consequences also say they support the renovation of the prime minster’s official residency at the estimated cost.
More Key Findings:
- Among those who voted in the 2021 federal election, only past Liberal voters support a taxpayer-funded official residence for the governor general at a majority level (54%). This, after former Governor General Julie Payette became the first in her position to live somewhere else than Rideau Hall during her tenure.
- Past Liberal voters, as well, are the only group of political supporters to believe at a majority level (57%) 24 Sussex should be renovated at the current estimated cost. Three-in-five past CPC (60%) and Bloc Québécois voters (60%) are opposed.