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Flight costs revealed for Trudeau’s summer flight to Tofino

Prime minister and family spent much of August travelling on military aircraft
The head of the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's August flight costs amount to a "slap in the face." | David Eagles, KTW

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first family vacation after announcing separation from Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau included a round trip aboard a Royal Canadian Air Force jet that cost $74,178 to operate.

Documents released by the Department of National Defence under the access to information law show the Aug. 10-19 itinerary for the Bombardier CC-144D Challenger and its 11.7 hours of flight time.

The former couple and their three children flew from Ottawa to Tofino on the jet, which then spent eight days waiting with its crew in Victoria. The return flight from Tofino to Ottawa included a stopover in Edmonton, where the prime minister met with Yellowknife wildfire evacuees.

Five others were on the passenger manifest, but their names were censored for security reasons.

The cost to operate the Challenger is $6,340 per hour. Canadian Forces Base Trenton, home of the fleet used by top officials, invoiced Trudeau on Aug. 24 for $6,708.45, or $1,341.69 per passenger, based on the government policy on personal trips to charge the lowest- price commercial equivalent airfare.

Trudeau’s Aug. 28 payment covered just over one hour of the jet’s flight time.

The documents included a pre-trip email from someone whose name and title were censored, pressing a Trenton official to provide the airfare cost estimate.

“I work with (censored) and I’m following up with you in regards to the quote we have been awaiting for the family’s vacation to Tofino,” the Aug. 1 email said.

“As you can imagine like in any other family, they are budgeting every time and getting the quote in advance allows them to better manage and plan finances. This invoice will need to be paid in August. I would like a conversation with you as to how we can facilitate this process together.”

The quote was provided two days later.

Even at a net cost to taxpayers of $67,469.55 for the flights, the Tofino trip cost was too expensive at a time when many Canadians are struggling with higher fuel and food costs, said the B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“Taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook for the Prime Minister's exorbitant vacations, especially when we already paid for a private vacation retreat of Harrington Lake for him,” Carson Binda said.

The National Capital Commission maintains the prime minister’s official summer residence at Harrington Lake in Gatineau Park near Ottawa.

Its website calls the 13 acres a “tranquil place to rest, reflect and confer in a secure, secluded and informal setting.”

The Tofino trip was one of Trudeau’s five aboard a Challenger in August, costing taxpayers a total $197,174 for 31.1 hours of flight time.

One of those trips took place Aug. 24-26, when the 11.9 hours of flight time cost $75,446.

Trudeau spoke at a Vancouver environmental conference, visited wildfire ravaged West Kelowna, met with the premier of the Northwest Territories and Edmonton’s mayor, and headlined Liberal Party fundraisers in Vancouver and Edmonton.

“That's a slap in the face,” Binda said. “That's clearly using taxpayer funds for partisan purposes, which is wholly inappropriate.”

The August flight tab was $10,000 less than April, when Trudeau travelled on flights that cost $207,000 and included an Easter weekend family trip to a Montana ski and snowboard resort.

Before the pandemic, records about Trudeau’s flights in July and August 2019 showed that the average hourly cost was $5,636 — meaning the cost to operate the jets has increased 12.5 per cent.

He flies aboard military jets for security reasons.

Trudeau arrived in Vancouver on Tuesday morning aboard a Challenger jet for a funding announcement at the Taiwanese-owned Molicel manufacturing site in Maple Ridge and a photo op at a grocery store.

He is scheduled to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco Nov. 16-17.