In a swanky office tower a half-dozen blocks from Parliament Hill, a pile of days-old newspapers is propped next to the door of Suite 1604.
On this sunny Monday, no one is answering the door at Newfoundland and Labrador's office in Ottawa.
Premier Danny Williams has stressed the importance of having a provincial representative in the nation's capital.
But today the job is vacant, the government has no timetable to staff it, and taxpayers are still on the hook for ongoing expenses.
Nearly six years ago, Newfoundland and Labrador first sent its own emissary to the nation's capital, to act as the province's eyes and ears and give it a voice in the corridors of power.
But for long stretches, the office has not been occupied.
The first provincial representative - lawyer, former MHA and current open-line radio host Bill Rowe - took the job in 2004. He lasted seven months before stepping down, citing family reasons.
The ambassadorship then sat dormant for more than a year before the Williams administration tapped Memorial University historian John FitzGerald for the job.
FitzGerald accepted a four-year contract as provincial representative in May 2006. But he left the job this January, more than three months before his contract was set to expire, to take up a position in the bureaucracy back in St. John's.
And FitzGerald did not spend all of his time in Ottawa during the latter portion of his tenure.
According to a Telegram analysis of his travel claims, he spent just half of his last 413 days as ambassador in the nation's capital.
FitzGerald - who had family members seriously ill back in Newfoundland last year - declined comment.
Operating the province's Ottawa office cost taxpayers $360,000 last year, according to government financial documents.
Nearly $378,000 has been budgeted to run the quasi-embassy this year.
As of a year ago, the ambassador's job paid a base salary of nearly $140,000 a year. That has since been bumped to $148,000.
According to the premier's office, taxpayers are paying $93,500 a year to rent the Metcalfe Street office space. The lease runs until July 2013.
The province continues to employ a $54,000-a-year support staffer in the Ottawa office.
The premier declined interview requests.
But in the past, he has stressed the importance of having a strong advocate present in Ottawa.
"In addition to our members of Parliament, a dedicated effort by the Office of the Provincial Representative ensures that we are exercising every opportunity to ensure our province's voice is heard loud and clear in Ottawa," Williams said in a 2006 statement announcing FitzGerald's appointment.
"This includes meeting with and building relationships with federal officials and other stakeholders."
The premier said at the time it is "clearly important" that Newfoundland and Labrador has a presence in Ottawa "to ensure issues specific to our province are being actively promoted on the ground."
Andrea Nolan, a spokeswoman for the premier, reiterated those sentiments Tuesday.
"The Ottawa office plays an important role for government," she said in an e-mailed statement. "There are several other provincial representatives from other jurisdictions in Ottawa and we felt it was equally important to have a representative from N.L."
Nolan said FitzGerald "played a key role behind the scenes" in advocating for the province, developing relationships with key officials in ministerial offices and various embassies.
"Ottawa is a complex place to do business, so having a voice up there on behalf of the provincial government proves very worthwhile," she noted.
But while at one stage there were nine provincial or territorial representatives in the nation's capital, that number has dwindled in recent years.
Recently, both New Brunswick and Manitoba shuttered their offices as a cost-cutting measure.
Newfoundland and Labrador rents space in a building that is home to a number of consuls, such as Norway, Slovenia, and the European Union delegation.
The province's office is tucked away in a 16th floor corner just down the hall from the Lithuanian embassy.
Nolan said the ambassador's work is currently being done by the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs.
"It is important to have the right individual filling the role of the provincial representative, so we will take the necessary time to find that person," she noted.