Moving N.S. lieutenant governor into house would boost budget to $1m

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's lieutenant governor could be moving to a mansion later this year, complete with housekeepers, a chef and a total budget topping $1 million.
House Speaker Alfie MacLeod, responsible for Lt.-Gov. Mayann Francis' budget, said the search is on for a suitable house for the Queen's representative.
If it's successful, he said, Francis would need six more staff - two housekeepers, a master chef, a receptionist and two security officers.
Francis, who assumed the post in September 2006, has been living in her own condo because Government House, the lieutenant-governor's downtown Halifax mansion, is undergoing a major renovation.
MacLeod said it would be easier for Francis to do her hosting in a house.
Government House has traditionally been where visiting dignitaries stay and has had staff like housekeepers and a chef.
"One of the challenges right now is when she's having events," MacLeod said.
"She has to go to different locations. She comes to the House here and uses it for a location."
MacLeod said there isn't a house lined up yet but said it was prudent to include the necessary money in the budget, tabled Tuesday.
New Democrat Bill Estabrooks questioned whether moving Francis to a house and increasing her budget by 67 per cent - it was $600,000 last fiscal year - would be a good use of taxpayers' money.
"Is this really necessary?" Estabrooks said at Province House.
"If, heaven forbid, I was a lieutenant-governor and I had the opportunity to entertain using this historic building in which we're sitting today, I mean this is a wonderful place to entertain."
Province House is the oldest legislature in Canada at 189 years.
Estabrooks, who has been critical of lieutenant-governors' spending in the past, noted the building's elegant Red Chamber is a fine venue for events.
Estabrooks said he understands the inconvenience of Government House being renovated, but he thinks using the legislature is working.
He also thinks doubling the staff is a bit much. The current staff includes a secretary, principal assistant, administrative assistant, chauffeur and clerk, MacLeod said.
Liberal House leader Manning MacDonald said he thinks the government has little choice but to accommodate Francis while the work at Government House is underway.
"I don't think you can lay the situation at the feet of the current lieutenant-governor," MacDonald said. "She's dealing with the (cards) she was dealt."
Former Speaker Cecil Clarke announced just before Francis took office that she would be living in her condo and receive $6,000 a month.
He also said the province would rent 2,800 square feet of space at Maritime Centre, looking down on Government House.
The cost was about $59,000 a year and included reception space and a kitchen for catering events.
At the time, Clarke said the province had looked at other options, including renting or buying a home in south-end Halifax, or renting office space elsewhere.
The work at Government House, which includes major plumbing and electrical upgrades, had first been expected to cost $3 million and be done this year. But the estimated cost is now up to almost $6 million, and the work is now scheduled to be done in December 2009.
In an interview marking her first year in the position, Francis said it was difficult not having an official residence for hosting visiting dignitaries like Prince Andrew and Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean, as well as dinners and events.
Francis did host 54 events in her first year and attended another 350.

Organizations: Queen's, Province House, Red Chamber Maritime Centre

Geographic location: Government House, HALIFAX, Nova Scotia Canada

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Recent comments

  • mom
    January 18, 2010 - 10:00

    You have got to be kidding me, this is the Queens representative, it's not the Queen. Maids and chefs while people in Canada struggle everyday. Children go hungry but someone thinks this is justifiable. This makes me sick.