Premier Jason Kenney spent over $16,000 in public money to fly two Conservative premiers from Calgary to the Council of Federation meeting in Saskatoon last July, Alberta’s Official Opposition said Thursday.
The Sunwest Aviation flight, which flew Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs and their wives on July 8, was revealed by NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley on Thursday, during consideration of the executive council budget estimates.
Kenney, as premier, is also the president of the executive council.
According to a flight manifest obtained by the NDP, 16 people were on the flight, which also included the former premier of the Northwest Territories, Bob McLeod.
Senior staff for the premiers were also on the flight, which cost $16,764.
The leaders were at a Stampede breakfast in Calgary. The flight took them to Saskatoon for the annual Council of the Federation meeting of Canada’s premiers.
Kenney said the flight was part of his efforts to build relationships with other premiers, and he will not apologize.
Notley asked Kenney if the other premiers reimbursed their costs. Kenney said he wasn’t sure but defended the expenditure as an expression of Alberta hospitality.
He said Alberta policy allows the use of charter flights when flight schedules aren’t convenient.
The revelation comes two weeks after an Alberta budget that made cuts to a number of programs, including a hold on indexing benefits paid under the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped to the cost of living.