Since 2008, Canada's top military commander has used government VIP aircraft to fly to sporting events, galas and a Caribbean holiday, racking up a bill of more than $1-million, CTV News is reporting.
Passenger logs requested by the broadcaster through the Access to Information Act provide details of several flights taken by General Walter Natynczyk, the Chief of the Defence Staff.
In January of 2010, for instance, a repatriation ceremony at CFB Trenton caused him to miss a flight to Saint Maarten Island, in the Antilles, for a cruise with his family. So, he took a government Challenger jet to the island, CTV reported, at a cost of $92,956.80.
Six months later, he used the plane to attend the Calgary Stampede with his wife. CTV cited records showing that the jet dropped them in Calgary, flew back to Ottawa empty, then returned to Alberta three days later to pick them up. The total cost was $200,000.
That fall, Gen. Natynczyk spent $121,550.70 to fly to the Grey Cup in Edmonton; on another occasion, in January of 2009, he and his family flew from Ottawa to Toronto to drop the puck at a Maple Leafs hockey game during the Canadian Forces Appreciation Night for $23,231.30.
In total, $732,366.50 went towards flights to attend hockey and football games in various cities across the country.
There were other bills for appearances at various events and fundraisers, including a Support Our Troops Gala in Edmonton in September of 2009 and True Patriot Love Foundation dinners in Toronto and Vancouver.
Gen. Natynczyk's office told the broadcaster that he tries to use commercial flights “whenever available and where his official travel schedule permits,” but that regular airline service “often doesn't provide the flexibility needed.” The flights, it noted, often take him to events where he is representing the Canadian Forces.
As for the excursion to the Caribbean, his office said it was “not deemed to be a personal trip” since his holiday has been delayed by work.