Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Frequent Flyer

Apparently Michaelle Jean is emulating her esteemed predecessor by adopting the royal airs and prerogatives that marked her tenure in office:

The Conservative government has kept the pricey Challenger jet fleet mostly grounded since taking office, leaving Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean as the most frequent flier of the government aircraft.

Defence Department logs obtained through Access to Information show most cabinet ministers opted for commercial flights over government planes for business travel.


Jean used the plane to make official visits across Canada and to Italy, Haiti and El Salvador. Only one trip was for personal travel -- a family March-break trip to the Bahamas -- requiring the jet to make two separate trips to return the aircraft to Ottawa and go back to fetch Jean's family a week later.

Jean's spokesman Randy Mylyk said the GG rides the Challenger for security reasons.

"It's always been a security advantage; the RCMP has requested domestic and international travel by the Challenger," he said. "One can ultimately override, I would say, and go against the recommendation of the RCMP. But no, that is not done -- both the prime minister and the Governor General follow the security recommendations of the RCMP."

Underlying the heavy use of official perquisites is a sense of powerlessness. Constitutionally, our governor general is all-powerful; practically, she is a reine faineante.

Those with real power, don't need to convince themselves of their power by accumulating all sorts of gaudy trappings.

Thus why the most garish displays of excess are to be found amongst third world kleptocrats and Communist apparatchiks, while their first world counterparts are usually much more restrained in their display of material wealth and pomp.

Source: Ottawa Sun


Lord Kitchener's Own said...

The RCMP requests that our Forces' Commander in Chief travel by Challenger for security reasons, same as the Prime Minister. Now Prime Minister Harper and the Governor General are free to ignore the advice of the RCMP, it's true, but in a post 9-11 world, I'm personally not comfortable with Canada's Commander in Chief ignoring the security advice of the RCMP and flying to Haiti on West-Jest like some tourist. I don't want to see the Prime Minister of Canada, or the Governor General of Canada on a commercial flight. Ever. No matter which party they represent, or which party was in power when they were appointed.

I would never complain about the PM using Challengers to fly with friends and well-wishers to an NHL playoff game. As far as I'm concerned, if Prime Minister Harper has to fly, even for fun, he should be in a government plane, not some commercial flight. Period. Same goes for the Governor General.

Cabinet Ministers can take commercial flights, and it's good to see that under the Tories, some of them are (not all of course... the stories keep coming out...) but our Head of Government and our Commander in Chief are different. I don't think we need to build a billion+ dollar plane like Air Force One for the GG or the PM (though it would be nice if we could, that's clearly over-the-top) but, even if they're going on vacation, the PM and GG need protection, and I don't want them just sitting on some commercial flight somewhere.

I don't see anything garish or excessive in the Commander in Chief of the Canadian Forces not using a commercial airline, and as a citizen, I for one insist that she not (though, as a citizen, I take it you would disagree).

Heck, even if it weren't a security thing, what about national pride??? I don't ever want Prime Minister Harper have to explain to the person sitting next to him on an Air Canada flight that "No, I really AM the Prime Minister of Canada, it's just that our country can't afford fancy technology like airplanes, so I've gotta fly around commercial like everyone else, and just hope al Qaeda doesn't figure out how vulnerable I am."

And the same goes for the GG.

AdScam was terrible, and the Auditor General did us all a favour to expose it (once she was called in to do so) but we're getting ridiculous now. We're really starting to nickle and dime our politicians to death, and I'm getting sick of it. In fact, I won't even complain about cabinet ministers (even though, as I stated, I think THEY can usually travel commercially). I DON'T CARE that "Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson spent $18,000 to charter five return flights between his home in New Brunswick and other destinations in Eastern Canada earlier this year" (from today's Globe) and I can't even BELIEVE that the Globe mentions $35.19 and $36.64 reimbursements his Chief of Staff received for lunch meetings. Are we serious??? $40 lunches are a big problem now? (OK, the fact that he also spent $8100 to attend "regional meetings in NB" during a period that he was in Ottawa needs to be checked out, but it sounds like that was just a clerical error, and missreported expense, not any type of "deception").

We need to get a little perspective here people.

I INSIST that the Prime Minister and Governor General of my country not fly commercially. And my impression is that most Canadians, if they really thought about it, would agree.

Balbulican said...


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