Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Records Show Pricey Flights for Jim Prentice While He Was Cabinet Minister: NDP

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Records Show Pricey Flights for Jim Prentice While He Was Cabinet Minister: NDP

Article excerpt

Records show Prentice likes pricey flights: NDP

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EDMONTON - Alberta's NDP says records indicate Tory leadership candidate Jim Prentice racked up more than $400,000 using government aircraft during his 4 1/2 years as a federal cabinet minister.

The NDP's Deron Bilous said the charges include near-empty private flights, deadhead flights and short-haul excursions when there were plentiful commercial options.

Bilous said the bills speak to the core of Prentice's cornerstone campaign promise to clean up the extravagant spending of former premier Alison Redford.

"He is talking and boasting about how he is going to be very, very responsible with flights and he prefers commercial flights," Bilous told a legislature news conference Wednesday.

"OK, Mr. Prentice, that's what you say, yet the proof is actually quite the opposite."

Bilous said the documents show that, in one case, Prentice had a plane flown empty from Ottawa to Toronto so that he could fly back to Ottawa alone.

In another case, Prentice flew himself and two staff to Norway for almost $42,000, when commercial flights were about half that amount.

Prentice, in a news release, did not address the specific flights or the $400,000 global cost, but said he followed the rules.

"I only used government aircraft in order to carry out my official duties, and only when commercial alternatives were not available at the time that I had to travel to complete those official duties," he said.

"The federal government has very clear and stringent rules about use of government aircraft.

"It is only permitted when there is no commercial alternative at the time of travel and when proposed travel has been approved by the Prime Minister's Office and deemed necessary in order to carry out official government business.

"During my time in Ottawa, I always followed these rules implicitly."

Prentice is one of three candidates vying to replace Redford as Progressive Conservative leader and premier. …

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