Thursday, September 29, 2011

Parliament's Most Frequent Flyer Award Goes To...

Peter MacKay
Peter MacKay, our Minister of National Defence, likes to travel in luxury. He just doesn't like to pay for it.

Since 2008, MacKay has cost taxpayers $2.9 million for his use of Challenger jets. He's used the jets more than our current and former Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and even uses the jets more than Jim Flaherty, our Minister of Finance, who has to travel around the globe pretty frequently to attend economic meetings.

MacKay's spokesperson defended MacKay's use of the military jets, stating that 50% of his flights were taken to attend to the returns of fallen soldiers. MacKay has used the jets on 35 occasions since 2008. Of those 35 occasions, 25 were for travel within Canada. Reports show that MacKay used the jets 9 times to attend to the repatriation of fallen soldiers. In my books, 9 out of 35 uses equals something more like 25% than the 50% that MacKay's spokesperson is claiming. Then again, Tories seem to practice a different form of mathematics than the rest of us.

A Challenger jet
I get that being an elected official comes with some perks. Don't get me wrong - I'm not entirely against these perks. But I don't think that any politician, other than our PM, needs to be using military jets to travel within Canada. Cabinet ministers are supposed to use commercial flights whenever possible.

The rules, however, don't seem to apply to MacKay. He is also under fire for violating conflict of interest code for a vacation he took in the summer of 2010 to the Burnt Rattle Fishing Camp. MacKay refused to disclose the identity of the camp's owner, but it later surfaced that the camp is owned by Rob Crosbie, chairman of Marine Atlantic, a Crown corporation. The cherry on the cake - MacKay commissioned a Cormorant search-and-rescue helicopter to pick him up from the camp and deliver him to the Challenger jet he then used to return from his vacation.

Update: Harper himself has now defended MacKay in the House of Commons, citing the same erroneous statistics that MacKay's spokesperson cited. Using fallen soldiers to hide behind...pretty classy.


Anonymous said...

Good Morning Chad
I enjoyed reading your page and feel compelled to write a few words in response. While it is true that there are many muti-million dollar homes in the riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka, describing the riding in stereotypical terms as wealthy or rich is a bit of a misnomer. Over the last twenty years in Parry Sound or more specifically Nobel, the building of these multi-million dollar homes along the north shore has served to inflate property values and taxes for locals. Many, even most of these "cottages", some of thousands of square feet, are not owned by locals. Many of the locals have been forced to move from the area or sell their shoreline properties because they can no longer afford the rising costs. Parry Sound-Muskoka is very likely relatively well off compared to other ridings across the country but rich is an overstatement. It would be true to say that the people of Parry Sound-Muskoka and anyone who has visited is that they are richely rewarded for having seen one of the best places on the planet and thus knows that most of the people who "live" there are down to earth, hardworking individuals who love their neck of the woods and are saddened by the efffects of progress on their towns and the environment.


Chad Roberts said...

Hi Roger,

Thanks for commenting! You're absolutely right when you say that the everyday residents of Parry Sound-Muskoka are not representative of the seasonal residents who inflate property values and taxes with their multi-million dollar cottages. I probably should have clarified within the article that when I refer to the riding as wealthy, I'm referring to the municipal tax base and not the average income in the riding. Parry Sound-Muskoka actually has one of the lowest average household incomes in Ontario, with the average household income being just under $50 000 a year, compared to just under $70 000 for Ontario as a whole. I wasn't aware that locals were being pushed out, but it makes sense that these people are often left with no alternative but to move out of the riding when their property taxes become unmanageable.

Thanks again!