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Stanley Cup Finals

In damage control, PMO calls Harper's NHL airfare repayment historic Add to ...

Maybe Stephen Harper should have stayed at home: The Canucks lost Game 4 and the Prime Minister lost some political capital.

Mr. Harper took a lot of flak from the opposition for his decision to take a government jet, at considerable cost, to Boston to watch a Stanley Cup final match. He brought along his daughter Rachel and Heritage Minister James Moore, who hails from British Columbia.

And that’s probably why the PMO is fighting back. A missive from the “centre” to Conservative insiders and supporters went out Thursday morning aggressively defending the Prime Minister’s trip.

In fact, the PMO notes that what he has done – in paying for everything himself – is nothing less than historic.

“We understand Prime Minister Harper is the first prime minister in Canadian history to make a practice of reimbursing the government for personal travel,” the memo says.

On Wednesday, the PMO said Mr. Harper, his daughter and Mr. Moore would each pay $500 for their tickets, and $530 each for the flight.

“As the Prime Minister is prohibited from flying commercial for security reasons, he will compensate the government for the cost of an equivalent commercial flight to Boston,” Thursday’s note from the PMO says. “Minister Moore will do the same.”

A check online of a return flight to Boston on Air Canada – at the last minute – is $2,629.03 (including taxes) for one person.

And CTV News estimated that it costs about $10,000 an hour to fly the Challenger, including costs of air crew, fuel and landing fees.

“The Prime Minister will continue to cheer on Canada’s team in game 5 to tomorrow night,” the PMO memo says. But it doesn’t say from where.

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