Premier John Horgan charged taxpayers more than $24,000 for his first trip outside Southwestern B.C. since he relaxed pandemic restrictions, according to documents obtained by theBreaker.news.
On June 30, Horgan flew with seven passengers on an Anderson Air charter jet from Victoria International Airport to Watson Lake, Yukon, the nearest airport to Lower Post, B.C.
At Lower Post, Horgan was the special guest for a ceremony where local indigenous people demolished a 1975-closed residential school to make way for a new community centre.
Horgan’s entourage traveled on a Cessna Citation Sovereign, which boasted a stand-up cabin, satellite based wifi, DVD in-flight entertainment, satellite radio, hot meals, snacks and a premium bar. The documents, obtained via freedom of information, do not show whether Horgan and co. enjoyed the amenities.
The journey began at Vancouver International Airport on June 29, when the jet took-off for Victoria with one passenger, Horgan Deputy Chief of Staff Don Bain, from the Landmark Aviation private terminal to Shell Aerocentre at Victoria International Airport.
The next morning, the jet flew north carrying Bain, Horgan, Deputy Provincial Health Officer of indigenous health Danielle Behn-Smith, press secretary Lindsey Byers, Stikine MLA Nathan Cullen, Deputy Chief of Staff Amber Hockin and an RCMP bodyguard whose name was censored.
After six hours on the ground, the Anderson Air jet returned with the entourage to Victoria and landed shortly after 7 p.m. The plane returned to YVR carrying Bain before 8:30 p.m.
A June 24 email among two Horgan staffers said the $24,138.47 quote was the lowest of three for comparable aircraft and saved two hours travel time over alternative aircraft. Details of the costing were not included.
Government policy states that chartered aircraft use is only permitted “when there is no alternative means of transportation at a lesser cost, and within a reasonable time.” That includes limited scheduled air service.
During the 2017 election campaign, the NDP produced a TV ad about then-Premier Christy Clark’s costly use of private jets. This reporter broke a series of stories about the BC Liberal leader’s charter jet spending that cost taxpayers more than $600,000 during her first five years in office.
Last fall, when Horgan led the NDP to a majority in an election that broke the fixed date law, the party paid more than $73,000 to private charter flight company Mondial Aviation of Victoria. Horgan campaign stops included Terrace, Revelstoke, Kamloops, Merritt, Penticton and Oliver.
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