On Thursday afternoon, Liberal MHA Tom Osborne took The Telegram on a tour of Confederation Building — specifically, his old office on the fifth floor.
© — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram
Liberal MHA Tom Osborne takes The Telegram on a tour of his old office
— now occupied by independent MHA Christopher Mitchelmore. They both agree that despite Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s accusations, the office shows no signs of renovations or sprucing up.
The day before, during question period, there was a spat between Liberal Leader Eddie Joyce and Premier Kathy Dunderdale over the cost of renovations to Confederation Building — namely, the cost of replacing the windows and renovations to Dunderdale’s temporary office space while the work was getting done.
“I was accused of renovating my particular office on the eighth floor by the Member for St. John’s South, when, in fact, there were no renovations being done to my office. Renovations were being done to his,” Dunderdale said in the House.
It’s not exactly clear what she meant by this.
When Osborne popped by his old office, the carpets on the floors were frayed, and there were coffee stains on the floor in a few places. One of the walls has two different colours on it, where it looks like a worker just stopped painting partway through.
Osborne said it’s not fancy, but it got the job done. When he first left the Tory caucus to sit as an independent, his office was briefly in an unused government boardroom.
“I’ve never had one cent spent on my office — any of the offices I’ve been in — at my request,” Osborne said.
Back in the old days, he said, when he was in opposition as a Tory and Roger Grimes was premier, his caucus colleague Fabian Manning left the window open in the winter.
Osborne said the office got so cold the sprinkler system was triggered, and there was a minor flood in the offices.
Despite all of this, when his pressboard furniture was disintegrating, he wouldn’t get it replaced, because it was still — more or less — serviceable.
“People have the view that we’ve got gold doorknobs and leather seats and solid wood furniture and so on. I mean, that’s not the case with most members,” he said.
At the same time, he said, the renovations to Dunderdale’s office are well-documented.
According to documents posted by the government in response to access-to-information requests, the government paid more than $17,000 for a bathroom and shower installed in Dunderdale’s temporary 4th floor office space.
The House of Assembly clerk’s office said no renovations were done to Osborne’s office at any time; there was a plan at one point to do some renovation work to offices on the fifth floor to house his staffers.
The clerk’s office said the work didn’t get done because Osborne joined the Liberals.
Osborne said when the idea of doing renovations was suggested, he turned it down outright, saying they’d make do with the current space they had.
The Telegram tried to get clarification from Dunderdale on what exactly she meant by the comment in the House.
Dunderdale’s press secretary sent an emailed statement: “The premier referenced changes to Mr. Osbourne’s office, which it is our understanding happened. At that time there was no renovations happening to the Premier’s office. So it is disingenuous to claim otherwise. Any further details will have to come from the Speaker’s office as we do not oversee MHA offices.”