OTTAWA — Control over the decor of state rooms at Rideau Hall and which heritage objects should be displayed shouldn’t be left to the whims of a governor general or their staff, says Senator Serge Joyal.
“I think the problem stems from the way Rideau Hall state rooms and heritage is managed,” said Joyal, an expert in antiques who has bought and donated thousands of dollars worth of historic paintings and antiques to the government.
In Washington, London or Paris, for example, the furnishings and decor of state rooms are carefully set out and the resident has to accept it the way it is.
Joyal’s comments come after Sun Media revealed Saturday that sterling silver tea pots, silver plated cocktail sets and china cups from Rideau Hall where dignitaries and royalty have been entertained over the years, were sold last week for a fraction of their value on the Crown Assets Distribution website usually used to offload surplus filing cabinets and old computers.
The government has refused to say who bought the items, saying only it appears to be individuals who listed addresses in Canada.
Joyal said he was “shocked” by the sale and plans to introduce a motion in the Senate calling for a change to the rules of the National Capital Commission to ensure better control over state rooms and artifacts at Rideau Hall.
Joyal said Canada doesn’t have many artifacts with ties to its governors general because in the early years they would bring their furnishings with them during their posting in Canada and return with them to England.
“So, Rideau Hall has not had a history of building up a collection.”
Kathryn Keyes, spokeswoman for the NCC, said the commission already has a well outlined policy governing what can be done with the state areas of Rideau Hall and how the 7,000 artifacts in the Official Residences Crown Collection are supposed to be handled.
Keyes said the commission is taking the sale “very seriously” and is working with Rideau Hall to determine what exactly happened and whether any of the items sold were part of the crown collection.