Nfld. & Labrador

Cleary calls for MacKay's resignation over chopper ride

New Democratic MP Ryan Cleary is calling for the resignation of Defence Minister Peter MacKay, over revelations that his office requested an airlift from a remote fishing lodge.

MacKay controversy

11 years ago
Duration 1:56
NDP MP Ryan Cleary speaks with reporters in St. John's Friday

St. John's South-Mount Pearl MP Ryan Cleary is calling for the resignation of the federal defence minister after documents obtained by the Toronto Star revealed Thursday that Peter MacKay's office requested the airlift from a remote fishing lodge in central Newfoundland in July 2010.

"The email trail that has been released doesn't back up his story," Cleary, a New Democrat, told CBC News Friday.

"It looks like he lied about it, that's how it looks. So when you have a federal minister of Canada come out and tell one story and a chain of emails indicate another story and it looks like he's lying, I think that he has to resign," Cleary told reporters in St. John's.

Earlier in the year MacKay defended his use of a military search and rescue helicopter, saying it was for work and not for personal use connected to his fishing trip in central Newfoundland.

The emails obtained by the Toronto Star this week confirm that MacKay's office requested the airlift because the minister unexpectedly had to attend an event in London, Ont.

Instead of taking the airlift, which took about 20 minutes, MacKay's alternative was a 90-minute boat ride followed by a 30-minute drive.

The emails also document concerns over the proposed landing site, which was too small for a Cormorant helicopter. Officials decided MacKay would have to be hoisted out of the area because the helicopter couldn't land.

Meanwhile, the local group fighting to maintain the Marine Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John's is outraged.

Merv Wiseman, the union representative for workers at the sub-centre, said the latest news has added fuel to his fight to keep the centre open.

"We really are up against very contemptuous and even corrupt attitudes at very senior levels," Wiseman told CBC News.

 "It strengthens our resolve to continue that fight and we'll see it through to the end."

Wiseman said employees of the sub-centre are demoralized by what he calls a "blatant misuse" of resources by a minister.