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MacKay took military jet to lobster fest

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Old 09-23-2011, 10:51 AM   #1
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MacKay took military jet to lobster fest

MacKay took military jet to lobster fest
Defence minister's office says trip to home riding was government business
CBC News

Defence Minister Peter MacKay, under fire for flying in a military helicopter while on vacation in Newfoundland, also took a military Challenger business jet to reach his Nova Scotia riding for a lobster dinner, documents show.

The occasion that prompted use of the government jet was the 76th annual Pictou Lobster Carnival in July 2010.

The trip happened the day after a military search and rescue helicopter based in Gander, N.L., picked up MacKay from a fishing holiday on the Gander River.

Under questioning in the Commons on Thursday, MacKay defended arranging for the Cormorant helicopter, which he said was not for personal use but for work. He wanted to participate in a search and rescue demonstration with 103 Squadron at Gander and cut short his salmon fishing trip to do so.

“I think as minister of national defence, I should familiarize myself at every opportunity with those who perform these daily heroics," he said.

It costs about $32,000 an hour to fly a Cormorant.

"We're talking here about a minister who obviously sees the military assets as a means of convenience for his personal or political activities, and that’s wrong.”
— Jack Harris, NDP defence critic
After the demonstration, the rescue chopper took the minister to the Gander airport, where a Challenger jet was waiting to whisk him off to London, Ont., for an announcement.

Then MacKay got back on the Challenger and flew to Halifax, so he could attend the lobster carnival in his home riding, where he successfully defended his title as lobster banding champion.

Rules say the government's Bombardier Challengers can only be used if a trip is for official business. MacKay’s office says the lobster carnival fit this requirement, and that the trip to Pictou was government business.

But NDP defence critic Jack Harris doesn’t believe it.

"We're talking here about a minister who obviously sees the military assets as a means of convenience for his personal or political activities, and that’s wrong,” Harris said.

More critics in N.L.
On Thursday, more New Democrats from Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as the provincial Fisheries Union boss, spoke out against MacKay's use of the Cormorant.

St. John's area MP Ryan Cleary said he had asked for a tour of the rescue squadron in Gander because he was interested in better response times, but National Defence turned him down, saying a visit would interfere with operations.

The minister’s Cormorant trip offended Fisheries Union president Earle McCurdy, who has spoken about the need to improve search and rescue response times and who also opposes the closure of the St. John’s Rescue Centre.

“The attitude that they can have these facilities at their disposal like that, and at the same time tell people who make their living from a very dangerous job at sea that we're cutting down on the rescue services that are available to you — that's pretty hard to choke down.”

Provincial NDP Leader Lorraine Michael was shocked by what she considers MacKay’s lack of respect for the taxpayers' money.

“I mean where are their heads?” Michael asked. “Who does he think he is, you know? 'I'm a minister of the Crown, so I have the right to do this?’ No, as a matter of fact, as a minister you have a responsibility to spend the public monies wisely."

Officials' Challenger use scrutinized

Federal officials' use of government-owned Challenger jets has come under scrutiny. CBC NewsAfter the Nova Scotia lobster carnival, MacKay flew to Calgary to spend two days at the Stampede. This time, however, he flew on a commercial airline, at a cost of a little under $1,600 — a far cry from the roughly $25,000 spent on the Challenger the day before.

Other flights of the federal government have also come under scrutiny this week. According to documents obtained by CBC News, a majority of flights on government-owned Challenger jets during June were taken by defence officials who could have used commercial aircraft.

The six Challenger jets logged 165 hours in June at a cost to taxpayers of almost $2 million, according to flight logs obtained by CBC News.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Gov. Gen. David Johnston are required to travel on the jets for security reasons. But other government officials, who do not need the extra security, took 60 per cent of the flights, according to flight logs.

MacKay took military jet to lobster fest - Politics - CBC News
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Old 09-23-2011, 12:35 PM   #2
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He keeps us safe from the brown people so it's ok.
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Old 09-23-2011, 12:40 PM   #3
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They should be using the jets more - they use them so sparingly the crews have to run them around just to maintain their flight ratings.
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Old 09-23-2011, 02:10 PM   #4
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Yeah those million dollar simulators are just some left wing waste of money.
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Old 09-23-2011, 02:36 PM   #5
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simulator time does not equal up-in-the-air time.
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Old 09-23-2011, 02:49 PM   #6
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Seems to work fine for Space shuttle pilot's. Or do they get picked up close to home by Discovery for a quick nasa related press conference?
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Old 09-23-2011, 02:56 PM   #7
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To launch a shuttle costs a billion dollars (more now given they're out of service lol)
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Old 09-23-2011, 06:19 PM   #8
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and to fly some douchebags to hockey games and family vacations and lobsterfests costs us millions not really any difference there percap.

If the guys need in air training offer the seats to normal canadians at a fraction of a cost and play shuttle bus.
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Old 09-23-2011, 08:04 PM   #9
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don't forget.. Harper is on a mission to make them pay the costs back.. at regular prices of which they would pay flying Air Canada. So I guess McKay's in the bag for a few grand.
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Old 09-23-2011, 09:45 PM   #10
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lol.

Is Harper going to pay for the hockey trips he takes? wasnt there one to the sates during the election.
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Old 09-23-2011, 09:52 PM   #11
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that's what I'm talking about.. harper did pay back the $1000 to the government at regular air fare costs.. then tried to turn it into a photo op-feel good story after the backlash.

what a chap.. He did the same thing recently with that general dude who took the challenger to his vacay drop spot on some island. $1000 or so..

Then McKay.. I'm gonna guess 1 grand...

At least they're trying! If my memory serves me correctly Harper in opposition was vehemently against using the challenger in any situation, since it cost so much.

The general's story as told by calgary herald.

Quote:

Of all the cheap and cheesy stories coming out of Ottawa, none beats the drive-by shootings on the use, and alleged misuse, of government aircraft.

The latest victim is Gen. Walter Natynczyk, chief of Canada's defence staff, who according to CTV, ran up a tab of more than $1 million over the past three years flying around the country on a government Challenger jet.

Natynczyk flew to Calgary for a meeting and Stampede photo op with U.S. Gen.

David Petraeus, then the top U.S. officer for Afghanistan.

Natynczyk also flew by Challenger to attend Canadian Forces appreciation nights at CFL football and NHL hockey games.

These events were all representational, part of his job. A Challenger also dropped him off in St. Martin, to catch up to his family for a Christmas holiday - after he'd attended a repatriation ceremony at CFB Trenton for four fallen Canadian soldiers and Calgary Herald journalist Michelle Lang, all killed in Afghanistan. Which was also representational, to say nothing of being the right thing to do. The flight was approved by Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

In the predictable firestorm on Parliament Hill this week, Natynczyk called a scrum and offered to reimburse the government for the flight to the Caribbean if the Prime Minister's Office thought he should.

It's one thing to get out in front of a story in terms of damage control, but this is ridiculous. Don't write that cheque, general. Write a letter of resignation instead.

In the Commons on Monday, there was the expected indignation by the opposition.

"Mr. Speaker," thundered New Democratic Party defence critic Jack Harris, "the cost of the chief of defence staff's recent taxpayerfunded trips to events such as football games, hockey games and the Calgary Stampede has shocked Canadians. The government is now planning significant cuts to the Canadian Forces. Will the Conservative austerity plan apply only to soldiers, sailors and airmen and women in the field, and not to the brass? Why did the minister of National Defence approve over $1 million of flights. . .?"

There's no accounting for hypocrisy in politics. This was coming from a guy who as an MP is automatically entitled to 64 free return flights a year, including 25 anywhere in Canada. But of course, Jack, that's part of your job.

It's also part of the chief of defence staff's job, getting out to see the 100,000 troops under his command and showing the flag for the Forces at representational events.

The fact is that the chief of defence staff has always had a Challenger at his disposal, and as Natynczyk pointed out, his office travels with him. One of the reasons for Canada's rapid response to the Haitian earthquake in 2009 is that Natynczyk, in the air returning from Edmonton, was on the phone with MacKay, ordering the first relief flights into the air from Trenton.

Two other government officials, the prime minister and the governor general, always fly on a Department of National Defence Challenger in Canada, because they are not permitted to fly commercial for security reasons. On overseas trips, they travel on one of four Airbus 310s that are also used for royal tours of Canada. (When the Airbus fleet was acquired by Brian Mulroney in 1993, Liberal Leader Jean Chretien scoffed at "the flying Taj Mahal." Mulroney left office before ever flying on it, and of course Chretien used it for 10 years.)

In the House on Monday, MacKay pointed out the use of Challengers is down 80 per cent under the present government. Which means that they are flying empty, so that the pilots can get in their necessary hours every month.

For example, in 2009, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty chaired a meeting with his provincial and territorial colleagues in the Yukon.

But instead of taking a Challenger back to Toronto, as he should have, he flew commercial from Yellowknife to Vancouver and then caught the red-eye home. Is this good use of a finance minister's time? Of course not.

The Challenger also happens to be a Canadian-made plane, built by Bombardier in Montreal. It's the forerunner of the Regional Jet, one of the most successful commercial jets in the world.

In 1993, Mulroney was flying into Andrews Air Force Base in Washington for a farewell weekend at Camp David with the first President Bush.

Standing on the tarmac to greet him was the commanding officer of the base. "Neat little plane," he said as the Challenger taxied in.

"It's made in Canada," he was told.

"I know," he said, "that's why we're not allowed to buy it."

Enough already with these phoney stories. Canada is a G7 country, a major-league country.

It's time we started acting like one.
haha. sounds like a bunch of wankers scrambling to come up with some justification. typical.

Last edited by JamesM; 09-23-2011 at 09:56 PM.
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Old 09-23-2011, 11:04 PM   #12
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Class warfare!
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Old 09-24-2011, 11:13 AM   #13
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Quote:
There's no accounting for hypocrisy in politics. This was coming from a guy who as an MP is automatically entitled to 64 free return flights a year, including 25 anywhere in Canada. But of course, Jack, that's part of your job.
LOL. You can tell which media outlets are nothing more than conservative mouthpieces when they make justifications like these. Even if the NDP MP were to use these 64 hypothetical flights, we're looking at a cost of roughly $64,000 if we're highballing at $1000/flight (the cost that Harper and other Conservatives use as the commercial equivalent when they fly private military jets), which obviously pales in comparison to the over $1 million it costs for a few flights on the Challenger.

At that rate, Harris would have to use all his 64 flights per year for 15 straight years in order to match the tab that Natynczyk built up with far fewer flights in just 3 years.
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