By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, December 1, 2011 - 33 Comments
After it was reported in September that he had been airlifted out of a fishing trip by a Canadian Forces helicopter, Defence Minister Peter MacKay was called to explain his actions in the House of Commons. His first response came to a question from Liberal MP Scott Simms.
Mr. Speaker, with respect to the question from the honourable member, I was in fact in Gander in July of 2010, on a personal visit with friends for which I paid. Three days into the visit I participated in a search and rescue demonstration with 103 Squadron of 9 Wing Gander. I shortened my stay by a day to take part in that demonstration and later flew on to do government business in Ontario.
The NDP’s Jack Harris asked the minister next and Mr. MacKay restated his version of events.
Mr. Speaker, I think I just explained that I shortened a personal visit to take part in a search and rescue demonstration in Gander.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 23, 2011 at 3:42 PM - 19 Comments
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.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 3:19 PM - 8 Comments
The Scene. Peter MacKay, as is his habit, was up before the questioner was even through. This is, presumably, what the Defence Minister does to demonstrate confidence. Or impatience. Or a general disregard for proper manners.
The poser of the question in this case was Scott Simms, the diminutive Liberal from Bonavist-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor. “Mr. Speaker, we now know, with great regret, that the Minister of National Defence ordered his search and rescue helicopter to pick him up from his vacation on the Gander River,” he lamented. “The response is ‘It was a demonstration of their capabilities.’”
There was much groaning and grumbling from the government side.
“He feels that he is entitled to use vital life-saving equipment for his own personal limousine, and we would like for him to answer to it,” Mr. Simms continued. “The Prime Minister has suggested that the chief of defence staff pay back the money for his personal flights. Will the Minister of Defence do that same, pay back the $16,000 and apologize?”
As noted, Mr. MacKay was already up, apparently eager to state his case. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 8:45 AM - 5 Comments
Defence Minister Peter MacKay apparently had one of Newfoundland’s three search-and-rescue helicopters dispatched to pick him up from a fishing trip.
MacKay’s office defended the move, saying it was an opportunity for the defence minister to see the helicopters’ search-and-rescue abilities up close. ”After cancelling previous efforts to demonstrate their search-and-rescue capabilities to Minister MacKay over the course of three years, the opportunity for a simulated search and rescue exercise finally presented itself in July of 2010,” a statement from MacKay’s office said. ”As such, Minister MacKay cut his personal trip to the area short to participate in this Cormorant exercise.”
However, military sources say no search-and-rescue demonstration was planned until the very day MacKay’s office made the request to pick him up.