ALBERTA

Saskatchewan NDP Says It Plans On Selling Gov't Planes If Elected

03/03/2016 04:30 EST | Updated 03/03/2016 04:59 EST
Cam Broten/Facebook

SASKATOON — Saskatchewan's NDP says it will end what it calls "the gravy plane for politicians'' if elected April 4.

The party says it will sell a taxpayer-funded fleet of airplanes exclusively for the premier and cabinet ministers.

The NDP says documents accessed through the freedom of information law show that Economy Minister Bill Boyd spent nearly $400,000 on government flights.

It says on 279 occasions, Boyd had the airplane pick him up or drop him off at his home in southern Saskatchewan.

NDP Leader Cam Broten says selling two of the planes would bring in about $4 million, while the third plane would be retrofitted to become an air ambulance based in northern Saskatchewan.

The latest announcement comes from the NDP even though the election has not officially started.

The Alberta government said last year that it had sold off three of four planes that were part of its fleet. The planes had become symbols of waste, excess and entitlement that brought down former PC premier Alison Redford.

Alberta auditor general Merwan Saher reported in 2014 that Redford had used the "aura of power'' of the premier's office to take the planes for personal trips for herself, her pre-teen daughter, and her daughter's friends. He said Redford's staff even booked phantom passengers on the planes so that Redford could fly solo.

Alberta government MLAs also used the planes to fly to political events under the guise of official government business.

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark's office recently defended her travel after documents obtained by a freelance journalist showed she spent more than $500,000 on private planes over the past five years.

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