Blue room: let's avoid the heritage massacre

The desire to "renovate" the emblematic room of the National Assembly, the Blue Room, has been in the air for years.

Blue room: let's avoid the heritage massacre

The desire to "renovate" the emblematic room of the National Assembly, the Blue Room, has been in the air for years.

You would have to be in denial to deny that the "Blue" deserves a little brush stroke. (In one particular place where I often pass, the paint and plaster, from floor to ceiling, are badly pockmarked.)

Certainly work is needed. But there are jobs and jobs.


However, certain comments by current parliamentarians raise fears of a real heritage massacre.

First, those of the president himself, François Paradis. Since 2019, he has repeatedly mentioned the transfiguration of the Blue Room. Everything would be on the table: hemicycle, half-moon, oval, etc.

In his project to reform the “Assnat” tabled in 2020, the current parliamentary leader of the government, Simon Jolin-Barrette, enthusiastically took up the idea of ​​the hemicycle, citing Paradis by name.

Quebec may well be one of the oldest democracies in the world; Although it has evolved in the British tradition since its first elected chamber in 1792, it should absolutely be inspired by what is done elsewhere.

Parliamentarians “in several countries, such as France, the United States, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark”, sit in hemicycles, underlined Jolin-Barrette. Same thing “in the Parliament of Scotland and the legislative assemblies of Manitoba and the North-West Territories”. Ah, if it is done elsewhere, especially in Manitoba!

That the chosen ones face each other would encourage confrontation. Also, wrote Mr. Jolin-Barrette, the renovation of the Blue Room should be “an opportunity to seize in order to continue its modernization with a new layout likely to improve the work environment”.

I am certain that no serious study supports the idea that parliamentary debates are more serene in the hemicycles.

In any case, it is quite copiously inveighed against in the non-British parliaments of all the countries mentioned above. Even one of the houses of assembly where we hit on the face most often is Taiwan. And guess what? The seats are arranged in an oval.


The other current terrible temptation? Historical “purification”.

Seemingly under the effect of anti-British steroids, the PQ Pascal Bérubé, on May 5, revealing that the "Assnat" was soon to present "the new model" of the Blue Room, proposed this false good idea: we should "remove a by one all the symbols of the Anglican Church. We are secular or we are not. »

In short, heritage enthusiasts will have to closely monitor current and future parliamentarians in this project. The separation of powers means that these elected officials (by definition temporary) are sovereign and have no patrimonial account to render to any other institution.

Disturbing precedents: under the pretext of “modernization”, in 2019, the authorities of the National Assembly annihilated the Abenakis fountain, in front of the parliament, and spoiled old perspectives by building two black police booths in the shape of hideous Tim Hortons.

The risk, now, is great: disfiguring the central place of our democracy by imposing on it plastic surgery that is as deforming as it is useless.

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