Newly-released figures show senior federal bureaucrats paid exorbitant rates to fly to Paris, London and other destinations. Airfares purchased by officials with the Privy Council, the Prime Minister’s own department, for the final quarter of 2011 have been posted online and include several expensive trips abroad, reports the Canadian Press. One assistant secretary flew round trip to London at a cost of $6,855; a clerk paid $6,625 for the same trip. What class they were flying is unknown, but an economy ticket for a return trip between Ottawa and London can be booked two weeks in advance for less than $1,000. Flights to Paris, another favourite destination among civil servants, Dublin and other European cities were also booked at prices ranging from $4,000 to $6,000.
Travel expenses have been a sore spot for the Harper government in the past year, ever since CTV reported a chief of defence staff who had spent $1.5 million flying a government-owned plane, once to a Caribbean holiday and to NHL and CFL games. Afterwards, the Privy Council wrote an internal memo to Harper describing the rules for travel spending and highlighting reductions in travel expenses. The memo was signed by Wayne Wouters, the clerk of the Privy Council. Wouters went to London in November for $6,625.
Then, in December, Defence Minister Peter Mackay acknowledged riding aboard a military helicopter in the summer as part of a search-and-rescue mission, only to have later surface that the Air Force’s CH-149 Cormorant chopper plucked Mackay from a fishing he’d been taking in Newfoundland.