Our Prime Minister has aspirations to be President of Canada, maybe even a knighthood thrown in for good measure, as in, Sir Stephen Joseph Harper. Why else has the cost of “protection” of the Prime Minister ballooned from under a million in the 1990s (Jean Chrétien) to over $20 million and rising today.
Pierre Trudeau drove himself around Parliament Hill, usually in his Mercedes sports car. No protective detail, no motorcades. In late 1995, Aline Chrétien beat off a burglar with an Inuit carving. Still no motorcades. When Mr. Chrétien started being accompanied by RCMP plain clothes security, they were there as much to protect the public as the Prime Minister (recall Mr. Chrétien’s “Shawinigan Handshake” given to a protestor.)
In comparison, do you remember when Harper asked Governor General Michaîlle Jean to prorogue Parliament? He drove in a full convoy of black vehicles from 24 Sussex Drive across the street to Rideau Hall. Was this to impress the Governor General? As it turns out, no. When Mr. Harper came to Saskatoon to interview Wayne Gretzky at the Kinsmen Sports Celebrity Dinner in 2010 (after the second prorogation), he was wheeled around Saskatoon in the same presidential style motorcade of black SUVs. From what used to be the final cushy posting for near retirement age RCMP to a squad with all of the latest toys money can buy.
Minister of Defence Peter MacKay has consistently squashed Harper’s desire for a “Canada One” airplane. Here’s a bet that after this summer, we will have a new Minister of Defence, and voila, a bright white and blue paint job on an Airbus A310 in place of the military grey.