June 19th, 2018

No reason why PM couldn’t use regular aircraft for vacation

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on January 6, 2017.

This festive season Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in the media regarding a family vacation and the use of taxpayer funded aircraft to go on this vacation. By way of explanation, a journalist said the government aircraft had to be used by the Trudeau family because the prime minister “can’t” use regular scheduled airlines.

The prime minister “can” use any airline he desires. He is physically capable of doing so. The journalist was probably thinking “not allowed to” which may or may not be the case. If for security reasons the RCMP have determined appropriate protection can only be afforded the prime minister on the government aircraft then it is a RCMP rule that requires him to not use scheduled airlines.

It raises more questions though. Canada’s Queen Elizabeth uses regular passenger train service to go to any one of her residences for a vacation. In fact she had booked to go on one to Sandringham before Christmas and then cancelled because she was not well.

A couple of months ago the Duchess of Cambridge made an official visit to Holland and flew on a regular scheduled airline. On reaching the destination other passengers were amazed to see her at the exit about to deplane. There was proof positive as other passengers clicked away with their cellphone cameras and the British media published the photos.

In both the case of the queen and the duchess their security detail is evidently capable of ensuring they are adequately protected travelling on scheduled transportation. It could also be argued that the queen and the duchess would be at a higher security risk than Canada’s prime minister.

In fact the prime minister recently reimbursed taxpayers $38,000 for personal and family expenses but the cost of the flights are based on economy fares which are much lower than the chartered government aircraft.

If Canadian taxpayers have no problem forking out the extra money for a government aircraft at all times for the prime minister that is fine but let us call it what it is — not a necessity but something we like to provide for our prime minister.

We do seem to have double standards though.

A few years ago there was outrage in Alberta when we heard about then-premier Alison Redford using government aircraft to provide transport for her daughter and personal trips. Redford was asked to reimburse taxpayers for her private use of the government aircraft and a media storm ensued. The situation was so inflammatory that Redford’s successor, the late Jim Prentice, scrapped all government aircraft.

We should ask ourselves if our prime minister is worthy of these perks while a premier is not. Could it be we are sexist and would not tolerate a female politician having personal aircraft privileges but feel it is justified for a male? Perhaps it depends on which political party you belong to. Redford belonged to the Progressive Conservative Party and Trudeau the Liberal Party. You decide.

(Gillian Slade is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to http://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions or call her at 403-528-8635.)

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