The Department of Peter MacKay Defence

Before it stopped explaining Peter MacKay’s helicopter ride as a search-and-rescue demonstration, the government side thought it somehow relevant to point out that opposition members had taken in part in search-and-rescue demonstrations. Apparently that response required the assistance of the air force.

The morning of Sept. 22, Royal Canadian Air Force staff — including an officer posted in MacKay’s office — were digging through flight logs to find instances where opposition party MPs took rides aboard military aircraft, according to emails obtained by the Toronto Star. The search fixated on Liberal MP Scott Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor), whose riding includes the 9 Wing Gander air force base and who was critical of MacKay in the initial CTV report.

By noon that day, the air force officials had found what appeared to be information that might take the edge of Simms’ criticisms. “Found it. Jan. 17, 2011, he (Simms) flew with the Standby crew for almost the whole day,” wrote Maj. Byron Johnson in an email to Royal Canadian Air Force headquarters in Ottawa. “Fax is on the way.”