by Margret Kopala

Letter to the editor published on June 12, 1997

Preston Manning, citing extravagance for him and his wife and "expense to taxpayers," won’t occupy Stornoway. This raises questions about his understanding of what it means to e leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.

Our parliamentary institutions (and their appurtenances, such as official residences) have practical and symbolic functions that transcend the lifestyle or ideological choices of their occupants. Indeed, one of those functions is to elevate the occupants to the dignity of the office they hold so they can discharge their duties in a manner befitting the Crown and the people of Canada. If the occupants wish to do so in a frugal manner, no one would object. But the decision about whether or not the institution is "too expensive" to occupy in the first place is simply not that of the occupants to make; it belongs to Parliament.

Moreover, our parliamentary institutions - which represent centuries of democratic development in the United Kingdom and in Canada - are key to achieving the peaceful, evolutionary changes for which many of us, like Mr.Manning, are hoping. But procedures exist to effect such changes. Flouting those procedures and institutions, even in small ways, is not only inappropriate but irresponsible and possibly dangerous.

The Bloc Quebecois rejected Stornoway because of what it represents, putting Canada on notice about her future. The current leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to understand its significance, which could have equally serious consequences for Canada.

Margret Kopala

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