Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Air Christy update

Updated May 14, 2013
In a Dec. 3 post, I updated the cost of Premier Christy Clark's charter flights on Blackcomb Aviation during her less-than-two year Premiership to $201,133.37.

If you're a B.C. taxpayer worried about where the government's finances are heading, I have bad news.

The latest records I received via Freedom of Information (below) were for flights on carriers other than CN Rail boss David McLean's Blackcomb.

During the first nine months of her Premiership, Clark flew in style and comfort on an additional eight trips worth $43,384.43. That included a $20,313.79, two-day charter for a group of 10 on London Aviation Services from Vancouver to Prince Rupert and Terrace and back on Sept. 18-19, 2011. During that jaunt up north, Clark took a side trip worth $2,330.40 to Kitimat.

In Prince Rupert she announced port funding, while in Kitimat, Premier Photo Op hyped her ambitious liquefied natural gas plan (that may never come to fruition).

That brings Clark's disclosed total to date to $244,517.80 for 36 trips.

(I am in the progress of tallying the cost of Gordon Campbell's trips for his last two years in the Premiership, but I do know that he flew exclusively on LAS for 18 trips in 2009 and 2010 all within B.C. Clark has chartered Blackcomb Aviation for flights to Yellowknife, Edmonton, Regina, Seattle and Boise.)

Government travel regulations allow ministers to book charters if there are no conveniently scheduled, commercial flights available.

UPDATE: May 14, 2013If Christy Clark’s two-year tenure as Premier of British Columbia is not extended by voters today, it will be wheels-down for good for “Air Christy.” 

On Jan. 18, 2013, I reported that her spending had exceeded $250,000 through Oct. 5, 2012. 

In the period from her March 14, 2011 swearing-in through March 22, 2013, the Office of the Premier billed taxpayers $285,422.70 for charter jet flights that traveled a combined distance of 22,407 nautical miles. By comparison, the equator is 21,638.8 nautical miles.

In 2011, there were 15 trips, with the most expensive being $20,313.79 on Sept. 18 of that year to Prince Rupert and Terrace for the unveiling of Canada Starts Here: The BC Jobs Plan. 

That trip included her aide Gabe Garfinkel, press secretary Chris Olsen, Transport Minister Blair Lekstrom, ProShow audio/video technician Ben Laurence and photographer Jeff Vinnick. 
Minister Pat Bell and aides Stacie Dley and Jessica Hodge were on the return flight to Vancouver on London Aviation Services. 

In 2012, the most-expensive trip was $15,470.07 for a one-day trip to Regina and Edmonton aboard Blackcomb Aviation with Garfinkel, assistant deputy minister Neil Sweeney and her security guard aboard a Cessna 550. She met Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Alberta Premier Alison Redford privately in advance of the national premiers’ summit. 

Clark also spent $9,781.88 for a two-day Calgary visit that included a BC Liberal fundraiser on Oct. 1, 2012 after the famous “short and frosty” summit with Redford. Garfinkel, press secretary Mike Morton and Sweeney were along for that trip. Sweeney traded his seat on the return flight to Katherine Bergen, Clark’s event and project coordinator. 

Only one trip in 2013 was disclosed: a Feb. 15 Penticton appearance for $3,414.15 to tour the city’s hospital. 

Prince George was the most-popular destination, visited nine times by Clark and her entourage: three times in 2011 and six in 2012. 

The latest on Air Christy

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