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Thursday, 1 December 2011

Defence Minister MacKay used a military helo to pick him up from a 2010 fishing trip - called it search-and-rescue demo -

Defence Minister MacKay used a military helo to pick him up from a 2010 fishing trip - called it search-and-rescue demo - 
The minister has come under fire for his use of military aircraft while he was vacationing in Newfoundland in 2010.

 senior air force officer warned against using a military helicopter to pick up Defence Minister Peter MacKay from a 2010 fishing trip because of the backlash that would occur if the public found out, according to emails obtained by the Toronto Star.
The officer accurately predicted the storm of objections and accusations that flew in parliament and in the media this fall when it emerged that MacKay had commandeered one of three search-and-rescue Cormorant helicopters serving the Atlantic coast at an estimated cost of $16,000.
Likely to inflame those passions once again is the military’s assessment, contained in defence department emails, that the alternative route out of the fishing camp would have taken a mere two hours — a 90-minute boat ride and a 30-minute drive.
Word of MacKay’s flight of fancy — one that his office insists was a long-delayed search-and-rescue demonstration for the minister — has raised questions about politicians using sparse military resources. The charge is particularly acute because of the Conservative government’s boasting of having scaled back this practice after seeing how their Liberal predecessors took advantage of government aircraft.
MacKay’s travel occurred in the second week of July 2010. It sent military personnel in three provinces scrambling to fulfill the minister’s last-minute request that he be evacuated from the remote Burnt Rattle fishing lodge on Newfoundland’s Gander River.
There were approvals to be sought, schedules to be arranged, a reconnaissance mission to be flown and significant safety risks to be addressed.
All of the planning was carried out in the space of four days so that MacKay could catch a flight on a Challenger jet to London, Ont., from the nearby Gander airport for the sole purpose of attending a hastily arranged government announcement.
The request was sent out through the senior ranks of the Royal Canadian Air Force on Tuesday July 6 at 8:49 a.m. It took just a few hours for then-Col. Bruce Ploughman, director of the Combined Aerospace Operations Centre in Winnipeg, to raise a red flag.

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