Notley slams Kenney for spending $16K to fly fellow premiers on charter
EDMONTON -- Alberta Premier Jason Kenney spent more than $16,000 of taxpayer money to fly Conservative premiers and their spouses on a charter flight, says NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley.
Notley fired the accusation at Kenney during a morning meeting of the Standing Committee on Alberta's Economic Future.
She said Kenney chartered a flight from Calgary, where the premiers and their spouses were attending Stampede in July, to Saskatoon.
The passenger list included Kenney, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and his wife Kristy Moe, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs and his wife Marcia Higgs and then-Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod.
A Sunwest Aviation invoice tweeted by the NDP shows a total of $16,764.02 for the flight.
Notley called the expenditure a "gross misuse of public funds." "I just want to confirm, do you really believe that it makes sense to drop $14,000 flying conservative premiers from other provinces who have their own budgets, and their wives, and their staff from Calgary to Saskatoon?" Notley asked Kenney Thursday morning.
Kenney fired back by saying chartering a flight was the only way to get to a Premiers' meeting in Saskatoon on time.
"It's the only time I've chartered a flight, apart from wildfires. We only do that in exceptional cases," he said. "I really do believe it is worth us investing in the critical relationships across the federation to help to protect this province, its jobs and its interest, against a hostile federal government."
He said he would not apologize for providing logistical support for "like-minded" premiers who travelled to Calgary at their expense.
"Alright, I just wanted to give you one more shot at that," Notley said, wrapping up her questioning.
In a news release, Notley said a one-way flight from Calgary to Saskatoon usually only costs between $300-$400.
Calgary International Airport said as many as 11 flights operated between Calgary and Saskatoon on July 8, with seven flights available in the morning and four flights departing between 5:25 p.m. and 10:55 p.m.
Notley said in light of the province slashing expenditures in its latest budget, the flight was particularly ill-timed.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation agreed with Notley that the flight was a misuse of public money at a time when the government message is restraint.
Notley is calling on Kenney to ask the premiers on the trip to refund Alberta taxpayers.