Nasty smell in Senate chambers causes early adjournment

To shared

A pungent odour prompted a sitting of Canadian Senators to adjourn early Tuesday afternoon.

Sen. Don Plett rose in the Red Chamber to express his concern over working conditions, hearkening back to his days as a plumber.

“Your honour, I’m not quite sure how to approach this, but we have a very, very difficult odour in this chamber, as we have had in the entire building most of the morning,” he said. “As an old plumber, I used to work with this odour quite a bit. As a Senator, I haven’t quite as often.”

Plett said he wasn’t sure exactly what the proper course of action was, but added the smell was affecting some Senators and would likely continue to be a problem.

Speaker George Furey said there was “little or nothing” he could do but did acknowledge some people had complained of headaches and other discomforts because of the smell.

“I think, in fairness to all our colleagues, especially those who are not here because of this particular problem, that we should suspend to a five-minute bell and ask the leadership if they can get together and discuss this,” he said.

Furey called a five-minute suspension at around 3:15 p.m. It wasn’t long before the Senate adjourned. On Twitter, the Senate announced its adjournment at 3:28 p.m. Committee meetings for Tuesday evening were cancelled, according to the Senate’s website.

Ottawa paramedics said they did not respond to the Senate for any medical issues and the Ottawa Fire Service said they were not called either.

Alison Korn, spokesperson for the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, said in an email that the opening of the nearby Rideau Canal Locks was to blame.

“Public Works and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has advised us that a sulfur smell was caused by the opening of the nearby Rideau Locks, which caused stagnant water to circulate,” Korn wrote. “The air quality is being monitored. A complete air change will be done in the building before it is occupied tomorrow.”

The Senate of Canada is located in the old railway building on Rideau Street near Sussex Drive, across from the Chateau Laurier. The Rideau Canal Locks are next to the Chateau Laurier, connecting the Rideau Canal to the Ottawa River behind Parliament Hill.

To shared