NDP Transport Critic Olivia Chow Takes Aim at Skewed Conservative Funding Priorities
November 23, 2011
OTTAWA – While the government is wasting millions of taxpayers’ dollars on executive jets every year, aviation safety is severely starved of proper funds. An outrageous situation that NDP Transport Critic Olivia Chow is calling the Conservatives out for in Parliament:
Ms. Olivia Chow (Trinity—Spadina, NDP): Mr. Speaker, while the Conservatives are cutting back on public airline safety and security, they are blowing $5 million a year on private jets that mostly sit empty. The government pays pilots to fly planes around empty just to keep up their licences. This is a new low, or should I say a new high, in wasting taxpayer money. Instead of burning millions of dollars on jets no one needs, why will the government not invest in inspectors and mechanics to keep Canadian passengers safe?
Hon. Denis Lebel (Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities): Mr. Speaker, the safety of our planes is very important. I totally disagree with what the MP said at the beginning of her question. Our government has significantly decreased the use of government aircraft. Transport Canada has already sold eight of its aircraft and we are always reviewing options to ensure that we are using tax dollars as efficiently as possible.
Ms. Olivia Chow (Trinity—Spadina, NDP): Mr. Speaker, we are talking about the nine aircraft that are sitting empty and they are burning cash like jet fuel.
Government airline safety inspectors have been cut. Airlines are left to inspect themselves and the government just takes them at their word. That is a recipe for disaster.
Why is the government more interested in funding empty private executive jets than in keeping our skies safe for Canadians?
Hon. Denis Lebel (Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities): Mr. Speaker, the safety of Canadians when they fly is an absolute priority for Transport Canada. Canada has one of the safest aviation systems in the world and we are very proud of it.
As I said before, Transport Canada already sold eight of its aircraft and it will continue to review all the options for the best way to use the tax dollars of this country.