12/02/2011 12:01 EST | Updated 02/01/2012 05:12 EST

Peter MacKay: Chopper Use Prompts Calls For Apology From Opposition MPs demand

OTTAWA - Members of Parliament continue to hammer away at Defence Minister Peter MacKay over his use of a military helicopter to fly him from a Newfoundland fishing camp in 2010.

New Democrats and Liberals are both demanding an apology, but the government is fending off the attacks by saying it has slashed the use of government aircraft by cabinet ministers.

MacKay says he used the helicopter as part of a search-and-rescue exercise, but Defence Department emails suggest the pickup was explicitly set up to retrieve the minister under the "guise" of a training operation.

Opposition MPs say that's the equivalent of commandeering an ambulance or fire truck as a private taxi.

MacKay wasn't in the Commons for question period.

Government House Leader Peter Van Loan brushed off the helicopter questions, saying they have already been answered.