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NDP pushes to limit use of government jets

By: The Canadian Press

 | Apr 01, 2014 - 4:13 PM |
NDP MPs Charlie Angus, right, and Mathieu Ravignat hold a press conference in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 1, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

NDP MPs Charlie Angus, right, and Mathieu Ravignat hold a press conference in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 1, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA - The federal Opposition is pushing for restrictions on the use of government jets for non-government business.

The New Democrats have tabled a motion in the House of Commons that would see the use of Ottawa’s Challenger jets limited to government purposes.

The motion comes after recent media reports revealed that a Conservative fundraiser has travelled extensively in recent years with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The reports indicated that Mark Kihn travelled on a Challenger jet with the prime minister and his family on several occasions over a number of years.

The New Democrats say the flights were subsidized by taxpayers because Kihn was billed an average of $260 a flight, including one between Montreal and Calgary.

The New Democrats say Harper should be bound by the same rules that govern the rental of charter aircraft by members of Parliament.

“There is no good reason why Conservative party officials are flying around on these planes and not even paying the full costs," said NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus.

"The Conservatives are taking advantage of government resources for party benefit and we need to establish clear rules to stop this."

But Harper says the RCMP requires for security reasons that he not fly on commercial aircraft. And he told the Commons Tuesday that anyone flying with him who is not on government business must pay their airfare at the going rate.

"My practice as prime minister is any use that I make or anybody else makes of the Challenger for anything other than government business is reimbursed immediately at commercial rates," he said.

The New Democrat motion says any plane used by the prime minister "should not be used to transport anyone other than those associated with such purposes, or those required for the safety and security of the prime minister and his family."

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