Premier Christy Clark is taking heat after a new investigation by freelance journalist Bob Mackin found the premier had billed over half a million dollars on private jets over the past five years.
Mackin says part of the issue is that B.C. is a large province.
“The Premier of British Columbia has to get out around BC, it’s a big province. But is she doing it within the rules and is she looking at other means? Because BC, unlike other jurisdictions, doesn’t have a fleet of government jets anymore but they have to rely on private companies.”
NDP MLA Mike Farnworth says the expenditures show Clark is disconnected from ordinary British Columbians.
“You know the government is clawing back on bus passes for people with disabilities, and the premier’s flying private jet to Kelowna where her riding is…It’s time to ground Christy Air for a reality check, and she should fly commercial just like every other British Columbian.”
Farnworth says Clark should have flown commercial.
“There are more than 10 flights a day to Kelowna. You know there’s no reason that one of those could not be fit into a schedule. The idea that somehow the Premier needs to have a private jet and an entourage to fly to Kelowna – it’s ridiculous!”
Mackin says that Clark should have gone further, and opted for video-conferencing.
“There’s a more recent clause in the government travel rules that say that they should look at alternatives because they should also be looking at the greenhouse gas emissions of their travel, and those alternatives should and could include video-conferencing.”
Mackin’s investigation revealed that Clark spent more $65,000 on round trips from Kelowna to Vancouver since 2013.
Premier’s office says they do “charter flights when necessary”
Clark’s office returned CKNW’s request for comment, issuing the statement below:
The Premier is required to travel throughout BC and commercial flights are used when available and efficient to do so. Because of the demands on her time, we do charter flights when necessary as long as the per passenger cost is as close to commercial rates as possible.
The Premier’s monthly travel costs are posted publicly and have remained consistent over the 5 years.
Jordan Bateman: Bad habit, or bad piece of policy?
Jordan Bateman with the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation is also wading into the debate.
“It’s always a tough one because we want the premier to travel the province, to stay connected to people in all parts of British Columbia. But when you see the same flights over and over again to the same location, you can’t help but wonder if this is a bad habit or a bad piece of policy.”