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HomeBusinessExclusive: Horgan flew charter to Kelowna, almost two years after Air Christy was grounded

Exclusive: Horgan flew charter to Kelowna, almost two years after Air Christy was grounded

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Bob Mackin

Premier John Horgan tends to fly commercial, but recently hopped aboard a private charter jet to Kelowna with an entourage of eight.

Horgan’s agenda shows he was on the ground for six-and-a-half hours on May 24 with aides Evan Brown, Don Bain and Jen Holmwood, RCMP bodyguard Greg Haasdyk, Emergency Management Deputy Minister Lori Hall and Executive Director Kathryn Forge, event coordinator Elena Banfield and contracted videographer Riel McGuire.

Horgan at a Kelowna funding announcement on May 24 (BC Gov)

Office of the Premier spokesman George Smith said the cost of the Alkan Air charter was $6,737.07.

“The reason for chartering the flight, given the number of people flying, was that the price point was comparable to commercial tickets and the charter allowed the Premier to fly in and out within the time restrictions of his schedule as well as avoiding the need for him or his staff to overnight in Kelowna,” Smith said.

Horgan and his entourage flew on the Yukon-based airline from the Signature Flight Support private terminal on Vancouver International Airport’s south side and arrived in time for a wildfire preparedness roundtable. Horgan had to respond to the B.C. Court of Appeal’s decision against B.C.’s bid to stop the Trans Mountain Pipeline before a mid-morning photo op at the Kelowna Fire Hall, where he announced $31 million to a Community Emergency Preparedness Fund for local governments and First Nations.

Premier John Horgan on an Air Canada flight (Twitter)

Horgan also met with Aaron Sam Sumexheltza, the Lower Nicola Indian Band chief that the NDP named to the boards of B.C. Housing, Climate Solution and Clean Environment Council and Indigenous Business and Investment Council.

The itinerary wrapped-up with shooting of a wildfire prevention video and tour of the Joe Rich fuel mitigation site.

The Alkan Air charter departed 2:45 p.m. for stops in Vancouver and Victoria.

The last entry on Horgan’s agenda was the Victoria Shamrocks’ Western Lacrosse Association home opener at the Q Centre, an 11-6 loss to the Nanaimo Timbermen.

“He’s got to be cautious,” said IntegrityBC’s Dermod Travis. “You don’t want to adopt the practices of the previous premier.”

A February 2016 analysis in The Tyee showed that, in less than five years as premier, Christy Clark racked-up more than $500,000 in charter flight costs, including $65,000 on round-trip flights to Kelowna where she became the MLA in summer 2013. Clark continued to live in Vancouver and never fulfilled a by-election promise to find a residence in the Kelowna.

In Question Period on March 1, 2016, Horgan slammed Clark for spending on charter jets so she could bring a camera crew to photo ops. The NDP’s advertising arsenal during the 2017 provincial election campaign included a 58-second animated parody of Air Christy

Unlike Clark, Horgan is known for regularly flying commercial. Last summer, Vancouver Sun reporter Larry Pynn wrote about a chance encounter with Horgan at a Toronto departure lounge before they found out they were seatmates on the Air Canada flight to Vancouver. More recently, North Vancouver MLA Bowinn Ma snapped a photo of Horgan on a Penticton-bound flight on June 23. Horgan was en route to Osoyoos for a photo op and party fundraiser.

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