Inside Politics

RCMP fleet details too secret for Toews are only a click away

This week Public Safety Minister Vic Toews claimed that "for security reasons and to maintain the integrity of police operations" he could not fully answer a question from NDP MP Sylvain Chicoine about the RCMP's fleet of aircraft.

Toews was among many ministers who, on Monday, provided answers to hundreds of outstanding questions from last year. Chicoine had asked Toews for a tally of how many aircraft are in the RCMP fleet, how often they fly, what they cost and how they are used, as well as a breakdown of their make, model and age.

This year is the 75th anniversary of the RCMP taking to the air. And as someone who has written about the Mounties' planes, I found Toews' response a little curious.

"Mr. Speaker, the RCMP owns 12 fixed-wing aircraft of various makes and models, ranging from 3 to 26 years of age, for surveillance. Aircraft are deployed for use across the country, as and when required. Requests from outside police forces may be considered based on operational availability," Toews said in his answer tabled in the House of Commons.

"For security reasons and to maintain the integrity of police operations, the RCMP cannot further identify these resources or release additional details as to their usage without jeopardizing ongoing police operations and investigational techniques, as well as the safety of RCMP personnel and the public," Toews said.

pilatus-PC-12.jpgLast September, I checked in with the RCMP for an update on the force's fleet. I was told the Mounties have 32 planes and 10 choppers. The fleet is used for surveillance, air support, patrols, getting around remote areas, searches, transporting supplies and personnel as well as executive travel.

The makes and models of the aircraft can all be found with the click of a mouse on the RCMP Air Services web page, where the force proudly describes its fleet of 3 Cessna Caravans, 2 De Havilland Twin Otters, 2 Eurocopter EC 120Bs, 8 Eurocopter AS 350B3s, 15 Pilatus PC-12s, 10 Cessnas and let's not forget former Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli's Italian vanity jet, the Piaggio Avanti P180.

Now if the Mounties don't mind sharing information about the fleet, I'm not sure why Toews does, especially when speaking on behalf of the RCMP.

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