Restoration Project Chief Architect Philippe Villeneuve gives Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Rector-Archpriest of the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral Patrick Chauvet a tour of the remains of the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral in Paris, Wednesday, May 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

McGregor Says: Build at home before overseas

Jim McGregor writes about spending money at home versus on a French cathedral

Jim McGregor

Special to the Langley Advance Times


I have a small shed in my backyard that shelters my lawnmower, pressure washer, garden tools and a lot of junk that I will never use and I’m not sure why it’s still in there.

Over the winter the roof began leaking in one corner, and investigation revealed that the moss is no longer doing its job.

You can’t have your junk getting wet, so I have plans for a new roof this summer.

Notice I said I have plans, I haven’t set aside funds or set a date, but I have thought about it and I have priced out lumber and roofing.

But then this week I got some great news.

The Canadian government is getting into the building supply business and is giving away free lumber.

Our prime minister has pledged softwood lumber and steel to France to help re-build the Notre-Dame cathedral, at no cost to the owners, so surely he will be making that offer to us as well.

After all, I have dutifully paid my federal taxes for over 50 years, so six sheets of plywood won’t be anywhere near the cost of supplies they are sending to Paris.

I’m not sure if I go to an MP’s office to pick up the lumber, if they will drop it off, or if the prime minister signs a voucher I can take to a local supplier.

No doubt the materials for Notre-Dame will be delivered to Paris in military transports. There will be a ceremony at the airport where our prime minister, who loves costumes, will be dressed as Bob the Builder and present the French president with a golden hammer.

The president will in turn will give the prime minister the Legion of Honour. Hugs and handshakes all around.

I’m sure that before approving this gift to France, our MPs made sure that all the Canadian residents and businesses who lost homes or structures to forest fires and floods in recent years have also received free lumber and building supplies. It would make no sense for me to buy six sheets of plywood and give them free to my neighbour if my roof is still leaking. You should look after things at home first.

If I sound somewhat cautious, it’s because aid money sent to foreign countries tends to ‘get lost’. Billions of dollars sent to the Haiti after a 2010 earthquake never made it to the Haitian people.

I, on the other hand, will take pictures of my finished roof and send them to the Parliament building.

The government says Canadians will be proud to be part of the restoration. I suppose we will negotiate having the CANFOR logo displayed on the front door or maybe build a couple of Canadian maple pews.

So I’ll find the application form for aid online, in French and English, fill out the Domestic aid section not the Foreign section, and wait for my plywood. I’ll be proud to see my restoration.

At least that’s what McGregor says.

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