Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/9/2011 (3163 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA -- Peter MacKay opened his chequebook for inspection by the country's ethics commissioner, while the prime minister defended him in a growing political brush fire over his use of government aircraft as defence minister.
Mary Dawson told a House of Commons committee Thursday some rules may have been broken during MacKay's 2010 summer vacation, when he was picked up from a Newfoundland fishing lodge by a Cormorant search-and-rescue helicopter.
The resort belongs to the federally appointed chairman of Crown-owned Marine Atlantic.
There "could be some contraventions," Dawson said in response to questions from the Liberals.
A copy of the personal cheque used to pay for his time at the lodge will be sent to the commissioner's office, MacKay said following question period, which was highlighted by calls to clip the defence minister's wings.
"I've taken that step to provide her that information. If she has any questions, she can contact me," he said.
The Liberals have mused about filing an ethics complaint, but haven't yet. The NDP is also hesitating.
More than $2.9 million worth of flights aboard the government's Challenger jets have been logged by MacKay since 2008, according to access-to-information records compiled by CTV News.
New Democrats say the high-flying minister should be grounded.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, until now silent about the controversy, defended the embattled minister, saying MacKay has used the jet 70 per cent less than his Liberal predecessors.
He said use of the Challenger was justified because "half the time he does that for repatriation ceremonies" in Trenton, Ont., when deceased soldiers are returned from Afghanistan.
But NDP defence critic Jack Harris scoffed at the explanation, saying MacKay used the jet to attend government announcements rather than flying commercial, as other cabinet ministers do.
Records show MacKay's office requested use of the Challenger for 35 flights and of those, only nine were to attend repatriation ceremonies.
Later, Harris said the bigger issue is whether Canada needs six Challenger jets, which are notoriously expensive to fly.
-- The Canadian Press
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