House of Commons plants soon to hit auction block

A memo went out to the offices of MPs and House of Commons staff from the sergeant-at-arms to inform them that all plants will be removed and sold - a blow to staff in the Opposition leader's office who had put their plants in hiding.

With watering budgets drying up, plants to be removed and sold online

These plants, in hiding in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, may be on the auction block soon, according to a memo sent to House of Commons staff Thursday.

The NDP’s undercover plant plot may be about to dry up.

On Thursday, a memo went out to the offices of MPs and House of Commons staff from Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers  to inform them that all plants in House of Commons buildings will be removed and sold.

The Department of Public Works no longer pays for the watering of plants in federal government buildings due to budget cuts. The “discretionary expense” of plant watering was downloaded to departments, which must now decide whether to take over the responsibility by April 2015.

The House of Commons, like the Department of Defence, has decided that it will not pay to water the plants in its offices on and around Parliament Hill and will instead sell them online.

Staff in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, a block south of the Hill, were so concerned about losing their plants that they hid some away in an empty office.

But the jig, apparently, is up.

“Since the plants are Crown assets, employees are not permitted to keep them,” Vickers' memo said.

The plants have bar codes, so the government will be able to identify plants that may be hiding in plain sight.

As soon as the plants are sold, Vickers wrote, they will be removed by Public Works employees, “escorted by House of Commons employees."

Next steps are currently being contemplated by staffers in Tom Mulcair's office.

Handing out leaflets is an option.

One source even suggested the employees could chain themselves to the plants.

For now, the plants remain in place, with the full realization they may be uprooted soon.

Mobile users, read the memo here.


Rosemary Barton is CBC's Chief Political Correspondent, based in Ottawa.