2 min read
27 Sep

Last week I explained how I got an invitation for lunch at the Parliament Restaurant with MP Adam Chambers.  It was an afternoon I enjoyed thoroughly!  

Adam's assistant, Kyla, met me at the West Block building.  This is where the House of Commons now meets while the Centre Block is under massive renovations that will take until 2031 to complete.  Rather than going through the Visitors entrance, she took me through a side door, thereby avoiding a large crowd of tourists.   My ID was checked and my phone and purse x-rayed.  Having passed Security's scrutiny, I received a visitor's pass to clip to my jacket.  

Kyla guided me on a very interesting tour of the West Block.   The portraits of previous Prime Ministers was of special appeal to me as the majority of my painting is now portraiture.  The various styles of the artists and poses of the subjects was fascinating. From there, Kyla took me to meet Adam for lunch.

The Dining Room is lovely, as you would imagine it would be.  The food and the service, were excellent.  We both chose fish - Adam had pickerel - pickerel is my favourite fish but it wasn't gluten free, so I had salmon filet that was perfectly done and delicious.   Dessert was a delectable gluten free chocolate tart, with a candle for me to blow out and wish on in honour of my upcoming birthday.  

A number of MPs stopped by our table during lunch and Adam introduced me. For a political junkie like myself, it was thrilling to meet these people whom I recognized from their pictures.  Shaking their hands, they immediately morphed  from the two dimensional images I had seen numerous times on television and other media to  normal, warm blooded, three-dimensional human beings.    (Behind my head you can see the Leader of the Bloc Quebecois, Yves Blanchet)

After lunch, Adam escorted me to the Visitors Gallery where he seated me with a perfect view of the proceedings that were about to take place on the House of Commons floor below me.  

The Chamber is in what was a central courtyard of West Block.  It has been transformed into an atrium covered by a spectacular glass roof. A frame of steel columns alludes to the stone columns of the Parliament Building. LED lighting and louvered sunshades help to naturally control light and temperature inside. The space is open and airy, but at the same time makes clear its location on Parliament Hill through stone walls and the green copper roofline.  The and carved white oak furniture with green fabric seats  and green carpeting are stunning.

Below is a sketch of the Chamber.  

I sat on the upper left - Public Gallery (15).  My seat was in a perfect location above Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (1) whom I could view perfectly when he stood to respond to questions, and across from the Leader of the Opposition, Pierre Poilievre (3) and all opposition MPs.

It was an exceptionally exciting Question Period.  It was the first time the P.M. had shown up in the House after the devastating and globally embarrassing incident that  took place the previous Friday when Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky was in the House to give a speech to Parliament.  It was also his first appearance after the Speaker of the House had personally apologized in the House on Monday and resigned on Tuesday.  So this Wednesday was the first occasion the Opposition had to question Trudeau about the incident - how it happened, what vetting of visitors took place, etc.  Lots of 'firsts'.  Poilievre was relentless in his demands for a personal apology from the Prime Minister. Each time the Prime Minister responded, he apologized on behalf of Parliament and the Canadian people, but not for himself.  

In response to a question from the Leader of the Bloc Quebecois, asking if the Prime Minister had picked up the phone to speak to Zelensky to apologize, the Prime Minister stated  the apology had "gone through diplomatic channels".  Personally, I find this most egregious!  I believe that the harm that has been done to Ukraine by Canada calls for nothing less that a personal apology from our Prime Minister.  I am more shamed by this neglect than by the appalling incident itself.  

I am really into politics, but after watching Question Period, I don't think I'd be cut out to be a Member of Parliament.  However, it was fascinating to watch!

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