MacKay had places to go

Could the government have allowed a federal photo op to go ahead with just two MPs?


Defence Minister Peter MacKay has apparently dropped his old story about participating in a search-and-rescue demonstration, and is now going strictly with the new one about how he needed a helicopter to get back to ministerial business that was, one presumes, quite pressing.

So exactly what was the work that MacKay needed to attend to so urgently that he whistled up a special military airlift to transport him from the Burnt Rattle lodge on Newfoundland and Labrador’s picturesque Gander River, where he was enjoying bit of fishing two summers ago?

The event that apparently justifies his SAR exit from R&R was the July 9, 2010 announcement in London, Ont., that General Dynamics Land Systems Canada was being awarded a $34.4-million contract to upgrade the army’s LAV III light armored vehicles.

Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services, was on hand—in fact, she gets pride of place with the coveted first quote in the official news release—and so was local Tory MP Ed Holder.

Could the whole event possibly have been pulled off without MacKay on hand? Frankly, it would have been unprecedented. For a federal photo-op of this sort my experience tells me that one politician per $10-million in taxpayer money being doled out is the absolute minimum. Any fewer than that would have shaken the foundations of our great democracy.

Could MacKay have made it to London that day without resorting to a military chopper? Well, that would, according to Defence documents, have entailed his taking a two-hour combined boat and car trip to Gander Airport. And since his staff requested the helicopter on July 6, he would have had a mere three days in which to fit in that arduous journey. Be reasonable.

Could the necessity of his presence in London, to back up his cabinet colleague Ambrose and show Holder how it’s done, have been anticipated, allowing travel arrangements other than a military airlift to be made? That’s asking for a good deal of advance planning. Although the government’s intention to award General Dynamics the LAV III contract had been official and publicly known since at least July 8, 2009, so there appears to have been a window of opportunity.


MacKay had places to go

  1. Well I doubt we’ll hear any comments about ‘leaching on the govt teat’ in this instance.

  2. The fact that he sees no impropriety in his actions and that he continues to lie to conceal the circumstances is evidence of his unfitness for office. And Harper is equally culpable for stubbornly defending him.

    Period. End of story.

  3. I expect the next thing MacKay will do is demand an apology from the opposition.

    • Heard the latest ? MacKay is actually considering legal action against MPs who suggested he lied about the ride he took aboard a search-and-rescue helicopter.

        • I liked the panel playing hoops. It’s Canada’s other national sport!

          • He needs to start using them regularly so this one incident doesn’t appear unusual.  We can only hope!  Reminds me of that old SNL skit where Gerald Ford’s staff start dropping things, tripping etc. in an attempt to make  Ford didn’t less clumsy

  4. His inappropriate use of assets aside.  He lied and should be punished.

  5. Something to raise, I wonder if anyone has thought of this yet…

    July 17 2010, 4 men were lost at sea from Twillingate, NL.


    This article identifies a Cormorant chopper was used in the search and rescue activities.

    July 9 2010, Peter MacKay commandeers a Cormorant as we all now know for dubious purposes.

    My question: was the same Cormorant used to search for the men from Twillingate as used to pick up the minister?  (to my understanding, there are only 3 Cormorants – odds are decent it was)

  6. When 40% of the 60% of Canadians eligible to vote who voted, voted for your party, you have a solid mandate to tell whatever stories you want.  After all, this sort of behaviour was evident before the 2011 election, and did nothing to prevent the Harper “Conservatives” from getting enough votes to take power.  They have no reason to believe it will make any difference in the future.

    • Even Putin shat the political bed eventually.
       At this rate, we will simply have to wait for the bloated excess to stick in the Canadian craw and bring about reflexive change. It could take a good decade or two and is dependent upon what happens in the world in general. As long as economies around the world continue to tank, Canadians will keep their fingers in their ears and thank Harper they still have jobs.  Harper may be a lying slimeball, but he is by far the most able politician in Canada. Combine that with his legendary “good luck” and you’ve got a game changer with legs.

      • This came from an op-ed in today’s Globe. There are some striking similarities between Putin and Harper situations, ‘… the election is also an indicator of a brewing legitimacy crisis in Russia. As the late Harvard scholar Samuel Huntington wrote, “performance legitimacy” plays a critical role in authoritarian regimes. When Mr. Putin was able to deliver growth and increasing public goods to the population, the legitimacy of his rule seemed solid because he reinforced it with an image of personal vigour and determination. Given Russia, however, is confronting massive structural problems due to its reliance on energy, with the vast Reserve Fund used to prop up the economy during the recession now largely depleted, and a demographic time bomb of extremely low birth rates, a shrinking population and a disintegrating health care system, not to mention an outflow of funds to Western safe havens, performance legitimacy is an increasingly less viable option within Mr. Putin’s social contract that trades freedom for security.”

  7. And I’m sure the same people who cried for blood over sponsorship will be equally outraged by this. 

    • I don’t know about crying for blood, but I was equally outraged over sponsorship . . . and this.

    • The Liberals got the boot. 

  8. Why can’t McKay and/or his communications flunkies just put out this statement and call it a done deal?

    “We thought that this would be a great opportunity to further tie the Conservative brand to the Royal Canadian Armed Forces, and that the citizens of this great nation would consider this activity to be a natural privilege of a Senior Minister – after all, that’s what they do in the United States with that “Marine1″ chopper, isn’t it?  We also didn’t really think that the opposition would care, since the Liberals and Bloc were hobbled from the last election, and the NDP were/are having a leadership orgy right now. If we had known that the opposition would have made such an issue of this, and that the voters would largely agree with them, we wouldn’t have bothered to do this. So sorry, won’t happen again.  Mr. McKay will gladly reimburse the Royal Canadian Armed Forces for the TRUE cost of this exercise, and we’ll call it even.”

    • If you look under A. Wheery’s blog “win-win” you will see that the now retired Major in charge of Search and Rescue is saying that McKay did in fact us the opportunity to participate in a training session.  He was able to ask many questions about the crew and they got face to face time with their boss to tell him their concerns. What is wrong with saying to the head of search and rescue “I will be in the area on this date…could we meet?”  According to the Major, McKay’s participation cost no extra money.  The fact that he “fit” a business meeting in and saw an exercise in action doesn’t in my mind require an apology.  The Major made it clear that McKay knew that if an emergency came up, the excercise would be cancelled. 
      Somehow, something that would be seen to be a really smart business move for a CEO, is seen to be somehow dishonest and sneaky for a minister.
      What really tops things off is that Bob Rae who used an OPP helicopter to take him to his cottage when he was premier of Ontario because he hadn’t seen his family in 8 days is the one chastising McKay…

      • After the military suggesting that his transportation could come under the “guise” of an SAR training session, a military officer now further suggesting that “hey, it really was an SAR training session” doesn’t hold a lot of water.

  9. Picky, picky, petty, petty.  Why don’t you hotshot reporters find something substantial to pontificate about?

    • An apology would end this, instead MacKay keeps pouring gas on the fire.  Dumb, dumb, dumb.

    • MacKay is a lying scumbag. He should be held accountable for his lies, actions and the cost of his little excursion. He should be forced to resign.

  10. The helicopter flight isn’t a big deal and Mackay could have put this to bed with a simple apology.  Instead he piles one lie on top of another – and he has a prime minister who backs him up in the house of commons.

    That’s why this is still a story. Lies, lies, and more lies. Never admit to a mistake.  If that’s not an indicator of a government out of control, what is?

  11. Plant this story, conservative media-whores: Surprise, surprise!!! Harper defends proven-to-be liar McKay! What pieces of human garbage; makes sense that they would guard each other, being liars, criminals, and brooding tyrants. 

    Here’s a good example of how things SHOULD HAVE WENT: Anyone remember ELEANOR CLITHEROE, disgraced former Hydro One CEO, who back in 2002 used a Hydro One helicopter to ferry her from her cottage to a board meeting… she was fired, stripped of her pension and was made to pay reparations… she fought in court and LOST. Harper has destroyed THAT judicial system like the expert fascist tyrant he is, so don’t expect a repeat of useful justice…

    McKay and Harper are just as wrong as she was to mix personal and professional and they must pay. What is worse than the actual transgression is the fact that it trends with the generally contemptuous conservative modus operandi, and that makes my stomach shrink to think of every evil deed the morally bankrupt harper regime perpetrates that we DON’T know about for each evil revelation that comes to the public eye…


  12. is this a taxable benefit? will it appear on his tax return? if it doesn’t is he guilty of tax evasion?

  13. Thank you for writing this article, John Geddes, but everyone is using humor and a lightness where outrage is called for.

    This is a serious crime. Theft. Like stealing over $100,000 from your employer.
    The opposition are pathetic. Begging for an apology. This is insane. Their sense of entitlement is equally warped, or they could see the crime for what it is.

    Education, healthcare, infrastructure, veterans, daycare, and so much more. Or blow $100,000 to run a jet around for a day.

    Why are people so blase about these criminals and their accomplices. Are we all really so helpless? Can we do nothing while being robbed?

    Harper stole recall from Canadians, and we put no value on that either. Insane!

  14. Ray Novak:  Steve
    Harper’s Closet Confidant


    He used to live above Steve Harper’s garage.  Now he may be the second most powerful man in


    “Ray is effectively the Prime Minister’s closest confidant,”
    enthuses one government official. “Not only as a member of his staff, but as a
    personal and intimate member of the Prime Minister’s life.”



  15. The arrogant behaviour of MacKay is one of the reasons that citizens are becoming increasingly cynical of our political system.  Shame on you MacKay 

  16. He should be asked to resign and pay back the cost of his little excursion.

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