Planes and accountability

by Aaron Wherry

The latest development in our national crisis of official air travel protocol involves the Defence Minister using a Challenger jet to fly to a lobster-related celebration (the Pictou Lobster Carnival perhaps?) in his riding. Peter MacKay continued to take questions from the opposition this morning in regards to the use of a search-and-rescue helicopter to pick him up from a fishing trip, but questions about the lobster festival were handled by House leader Peter Van Loan. Mr. Van Loan’s first response to the NDP’s Christine Moore was as follows.

Mr. Speaker, taxpayers expect government officials to conduct the nation’s business at a reasonable cost. It is something that our government takes very seriously. I want to be clear. Our use of government aircraft by our ministers is always in compliance with policy. We do follow the policies. And we have reduced the use of government aircraft significantly, as we have said. When we look at Challenger use by the Liberals who spoke earlier about this issue, we have reduced our use 80% since they abused them as personal limousines constantly. We only use them for government business.




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Planes and accountability

  1. Peter MacKay interprets most questions to him as ‘Can you tell us how much you admire and appreciate what our troops are doing for the country? ’  He must have a bit of a hearing problem.  And there should be loud buzzer that goes off when questions are answered in the way Van Loan did.   

    • A loud buzzer that is accompanied by a slight electrical shock.  There is no “nation’s business” at a constituency lobster supper. 

  2. “questions about the lobster festival were handled by House leader Peter Van Loan”

    Jeez, between the Treasury Board President and the Minister of Defense, Harper’s real power players sure are busy answering questions in the House.

  3. I really do think this is silly, and one of the examples of us nickel and diming our politicians, so I hope it stops soon.  That said, I thought the attacks on the CDS went beyond idiotic, so I guess I don’t mind the idiocy being spread around a bit.

    Still, I hope we can move on from this silly story soon.

    • Yes, these jets need to be flown a certain amount just to get sufficient training, experience, keep them well-maintained, etc and if that is combined with flying a minister around, rather than just flying with no minister, I don’t see the problem.

      However, the Harper government has perfected the use of dumbing down the political message, practically begging people to look at optics rather than substance, so there is some justice in how their success with that then affects their own decisions.  Their own actions do come with a cost, even if it helps with their electoral success.

      • “The Harper government has perfected the use of dumbing down the political message”

        Perhaps, but on the Challenger file they’ve also perfected the art of using the jets less, from around 85 flights a year by cabinet ministers under the Liberals, to around 30 under the Tories.

        • But there was a report of DND management, who do not need to, using them - so the Con talking point doesn’t tell the whole story.

          • Fair enough, and understand that I’m not interested in giving anyone a free pass per se, but I don’t think that abuse of these planes is anywhere near rampant, and I certainly find the complaints about the CDS’ use to be silly, and over-the-top.  When we start nitpicking on a a general who spent his last TWO Christmases in AFGHANISTAN with the troops for using a Challenger to catch up to his family who are on a long-planned vacation, because he felt he shouldn’t fly with them on their scheduled flight because he wanted to be in Canada for the repatriation of the bodies of Canadian soldiers, we’ve lost site of the forest in all the trees.

          • I have no complaint with the CDS useage, including catching up to his family. He should have one at his disposal at all times.  Anyone using it as perk of office or employment, is where I have the problem. 

          • Totally agreed Jan. 

            I’m leaning towards the “get off their back” side of this file mostly because I’m SUPER annoyed at the crap the CDS had to deal with over a use that I have no problem with whatsoever.  The MacKay “rescue mission” with the Cormorant is much more iffy, but I can see the explanation as being plausible at least.  As explained, it’s not a totally outrageous use of the helicopter necessarily, the question is whether the explanation is really what happened, or if it’s just a post facto rationalization.

  4. Meet the new boss,

  5. Serious suggestion:

    If so many Challenger Jets are making empty flights in order to keep the pilots/crew certified, maybe we should reduce the size of the fleet to meet the actual need of the government.

    • Maybe they could get a local serviceman to do the puck drops. 

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