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RCMP repeatedly flew overweight aircraft, broke rules: report

Dec. 3, 2014, Ottawa - The RCMP regularly flew aircraft that exceeded legal weight limits, and then attempted to block the release of a report that revealed the violations to the public.


December 3, 2014
By The Globe and Mail

The Public Sector Integrity Commissioner revealed on Tuesday that the RCMP’s Air Services Branch repeatedly flew planes with too many passengers or too much luggage and fuel. The investigation also found that pilots filled out flight logs with false data to hide the breach of federal regulations.

The release of the report was delayed when the RCMP went to court to challenge the Commissioner’s role in investigating whistleblower complaints involving the Mounties.

The Federal Court last week rejected a request for an injunction to further delay the report, which was ready to be published in mid-November. Still, the legal debate is ongoing, as the RCMP argues that court material related to this file should remain confidential.

In his investigation, Integrity Commissioner Mario Dion found that pilots frequently under-reported the weight of passengers and crew on two RCMP aircraft on flight logs, or entered unrealistic weights for the fuel or the luggage on board.

The flight logs frequently suggested that the planes were carrying just under their maximum weight capacity. However, one of the pilots who spoke to investigators said that “he himself had worked backwards to make the numbers work on paper.”

The Integrity Commissioner said there is no information on the actual weight of the planes that were flown by the RCMP, but added there was no evidence that “the life, health or safety of persons was compromised as a result of these overweight flights.”

Mr. Dion’s office investigated four other complaints related to the RCMP aircraft fleet in Ottawa, but he said that investigators did not find any evidence of their validity.

The RCMP acknowledged in a statement that some of its planes “may have been flown overweight,” but added that “calculation errors” were to blame.

“The RCMP had already identified and had begun to address those same concerns as of August, 2013,” the police force said.

The RCMP declined to comment further on the report, stating that its court battle with the Public Sector Integrity Commission is ongoing. Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney also invoked the court case to stay silent on the matter in the House.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said he is “gobsmacked” by the government’s legal position.

“I can’t believe that the Conservatives would actually try to shut down public information about work being done by the Integrity Commissioner. It says everything about the Conservatives that they’re attacking integrity,” Mr. Mulcair said after Question Period.

In a conference call with reporters, Mr. Dion said that all federal officials need to follow the law.

“This report, I hope, will serve as another reminder to all federal public-sector employees that it is imperative that they understand that any contravention of any act of Parliament or any regulations made under any such act does constitute wrongdoing,” he said.