OTTAWA - The Conservative government is defending the $1 million cost of flying armoured vehicles to India for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, saying it was a security decision by the RCMP.
Harper's use of an armour-plated car and SUV bearing Canadian licence plates during his November tour prompted New Democrats to formally inquire about the cost.
With the return of parliament this week after a six-week break, the final tally came in: $31,000 in personnel travel and a little more than $1 million for the use of the massive Canadian Forces Globemaster to fly the two vehicles to India.
NDP critic Charlie Angus asked why the Conservative government was willing to spend so much on what he called Harper's personal Taj Mahal taxi, considering that the Indian government says it offered to provide an armoured Mercedes for the prime minister's use.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird responded that the people of India have lost two prime ministers to assassination in the last 25 years and faced a massive terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008.
Baird said the government consults experts on security, adding that when it comes to matters of national security and the security of the prime minister, he'll "take the advice from the RCMP over the NDP every single time."