Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with the Aga Khan on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Trudeau takes heat for costly vacation

Trip down south was north of $127,000

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau’s family vacation over New Year’s is back in the spotlight after documents tabled in Parliament revealed the cost of the trip down south was north of $127,000.

The dollar figure gives the opposition Conservatives a chance to bring up the trip that has embroiled Trudeau in an ethics probe and also attack the prime minister for overspending on government entitlements.

The federal ethics watchdog is looking into the trip to see if Trudeau violated guidelines for ministers when he vacationed on a private island owned by the Aga Khan and took the spiritual leader’s private helicopter as part of the visit.

The costs presented in response to a written question from the Conservatives don’t appear to include the helicopter flight, but do include the cost for travel, accommodations and per diems for public servants who accompanied Trudeau.

More than half the cost — about $72,000 — was for an RCMP security detail to accompany Trudeau and his family on the winter getaway, a cost the government said would have been incurred regardless of where the prime minister vacationed.

Security rules mean the prime minister isn’t allowed to travel without a security detail, nor are the prime minister and his family allowed to take commercial flights.

That means they must fly on government aircraft.

The Liberals said Tuesday the costs weren’t unreasonable and that Trudeau, like his predecessors, reimburses the cost of an equivalent commercial flight. For the holiday trip, that reimbursement came to $4,895.94.

“One of the first things we did after taking office was to ask the clerk of the privy council office to develop guidelines surrounding the reimbursement of travel by sitting prime minister, their families and guests. Prior to our government taking office, no such policy existed,” Liberal House leader Bardish Chagger said.

The round-trip between Canada and the Bahamas cost about $32,000, a figure that includes the cost for the crew, fuel and maintenance, some of which would be incurred regardless of whether Trudeau was in the air.

On the plane, the cost for food, beverages and associated fees like catering, delivery, storage, airport taxes and security fees, totalled $1,720.37.

The figure led to an exasperated response from Conservative MP Blaine Calkins, who asked in the House of Commons, just what in the world was Trudeau eating?

“Lots of Canadian families travel by plane on a special getaway once a year. On these flights you can buy a sandwich, maybe a Diet Coke and a bag of chips for a snack. It’s not great, but it certainly is reasonable,” Calkins said.

“What’s not reasonable, Mr. Speaker, is over $1,700 worth of food and drinks for a three-hour flight between Canada and the Bahamas, which is how much the taxpayer was billed by the prime minister getting to his private island vacation.”

Just Posted

After death of 8th child, Ikea relaunches dresser recall in U.S and Canada

NEW YORK — Ikea relaunched a recall of 29 million chests and… Continue reading

Decision on Haitians’ status in the U.S. has Canada on alert for asylum seekers

OTTAWA — A decision by the Trump administration to end a temporary… Continue reading

European court opens hearing on recognizing same-sex unions

BUCHAREST, Romania — The European Court of Justice on Tuesday opened a… Continue reading

German police retrieve 100 stolen John Lennon items

BERLIN — A cigarette case, a handwritten musical score, three diaries and… Continue reading

Trump administration announces sanctions against North Korea

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration plans to announce Tuesday new sanctions on… Continue reading

VIDEO: Replay Red Deer: Nov. 19

Watch news highlights from the week of Nov. 13

Red Deer Christmas Bureau to help 1,300 children this year

Demand is high, but Red Deer always provides

CP Holiday train to stop in Ponoka for another year

The popular train will feature entertainment from Colin James and Emma-Lee

Kittens rescued after allegedly being tossed from vehicle

Couple finds abandoned kittens new home through Facebook

VIDEO: ‘Party bus’ goes up in flames in Vancouver

Fire crews responded to the late night blaze

Chicken crosses B.C. road, stops traffic

Rooster makes early morning commuters wait in Maple Ridge

Red Deerian honours her brother who died in a motorcycle collision

Houaida Haddad is encouraging Red Deer residents to donate blood

Red Deer County firefighters to be recognized for Waterton help

RCMP brass will give formal recognition Monday

Ron James tries to lighten humanity’s load through humour

The comedian returns to Red Deer for shows Dec. 1 and 2

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month