"Jet-Setting General" Under Fire
It seems the stigma of "private" jet travel extends even to top-ranked military officers in Canada, where the country's top soldier will likely pay back part of the cost for at least one trip he took in a Royal Canadian Air Force Challenger bizjet. Gen. Walt Natynczyk, Canada's Chief of Defense Staff (the equivalent of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the U.S.), has been under fire for the use of the aircraft to meet his family for a Caribbean vacation in January of 2010. The story first came out without comment from Natynczyk, who explained that he had missed his charter flight because he was commanding a repatriation ceremony for four soldiers and a Canadian journalist killed in fighting in Afghanistan. His boss, Defense Minister Peter MacKay, then authorized a Challenger flight to allow the general to get to St. Maarten so he could get on a cruise ship in time to be with his family. At first, Natynczyk blew off the reports labeling him a "jet-setting general," but then he had a chat with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The PM apparently explained to him that Canada has a policy that requires officials to reimburse the government for the commercial airline ticket value of flights that involve personal business. Harper told reporters he's written checks himself for such travel. On Tuesday, Natynczyk said he too would repay the government.