Military instructed to investigate MP Scott Simms

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Investigation comes in wake of story on minister’s Cormorant flight

Members of the Canadian Forces were instructed to investigate Liberal MP Scott Simms as news broke of Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s flight in a Cormorant helicopter from a fishing lodge on the Gander River in July 2010.

Simms, MP for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls-Windsor, had been publicly criticizing MacKay’s use of the helicopter at the time.

The story of the apparent attempts to dig up dirt on Simms broke in today’s Toronto Star, after that paper obtained a series internal emails about the research.

At 11:45 a.m. on Sept. 22, Major Byron Johnson in Gander emailed three majors, based in Ottawa, to update them on a background search he was apparently conducting on Simms’ interactions with search and rescue.

“Staff continuing search but nothing found thus far placing MP Simms aboard Cormorant,” Johnson wrote. “Will advise if something located.”

A follow up from the same source, sent shortly after noon Sept. 22, begins with two words: “Found it.”

The email went on to state Simms had flown “for almost a whole day” on Jan. 17, 2011.

This prompted a flurry of questions from Ottawa — including who requested the flight and whether or not it was paid for by Simms. 

Whereas other emails were copied to multiple individuals, it was instructed this information was to come back only to Johnson.

At 2:35 p.m. Capt. Mike O’Brien at 9 Wing Gander replies to Johnson as instructed. 

The flight with Simms, he stated, was to “sensitize Mr. Simms to SAR Ops,” just over five hours was spent, he was not aware of any payments made to the Royal Canadian Air Force.

A later email noted the flight for Simms was directed from the minister’s office — following a press release that had been put out by Simms regarding search and rescue response.


The same day as the emails were flying, Simms was in the House of Commons chastising MacKay about his helicopter flight (read the official transcript here). The subject was raised shortly before noon in Ottawa.

“He feels that he is entitled to use vital life-saving equipment for his own personal limousine, and we would like for him to answer to it,” Simms said.

NDP MP for St. John’s East, Jack Harris, was also in the fray.

“Mr. Speaker, we are all shocked to learn that the Minister of National Defence sees his country's military equipment as his own personal chauffeur service,” he said.

MacKay said his flight was part of a search and rescue demonstration and happened to come following a personal visit with friends on the Gander river.

During a response to Harris, MacKay raised the fact other MPs, including Harris, have participated in search and rescue demonstrations.

“As the member would know, having participated in the parliamentary program with the Canadian Forces, members of Parliament, in fact 20 including himself, took part in search and rescue activities in the past.”

MacKay did not name Simms among them.

The Telegram is following the story.

Read the email exchange here, and vote in our Tely Poll.


Organizations: Canadian Forces, House of Commons, National Defence

Geographic location: Ottawa, Gander, Gander river

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Recent comments

  • Joseph
    February 24, 2012 - 14:47

    It makes no difference what party it is, or whether it's federal or provincial,some politicians will do those things anyway. I dunno, maybe they think they're entitled..

  • Paul
    February 24, 2012 - 14:26

    @Tim...are you kidding me. You went back 42 years to find a statement to say liberals don't believe in civil rights!!! lol!!

  • alfred
    February 24, 2012 - 13:35

    when are people going to stop electing this guy? he as shown is true colours to the hard-working taxpayers of his riding. may i suggest you look in the mirrow mr. simms before you point fingers at others . WHAT AN HYPOCRITE !

  • Leah
    February 24, 2012 - 12:51

    Self-rightious liars for your own benefit.....that's what most politicians are, and on down through the "I'll scrach your back if you'll scratch mine" line. We, the TAXPAYERS, are their bread and butter (or rather, steak and lobster), and , even though they are getting outragious salaries, plus luxurious vehicles, extravagant travel allowances, etc., etc., they are still stealing from us left, right, and center, and practically stealing the eyes out of heads also, so to speak. Does the word CONSCIENCE mean anything? I hope Burton Winters' mother and family keep after the whole sorry, though rich, bunch of you, OUR supposedly representatives, until you DO finally find your conscience. God did give us all one. Most of you lost yours. As well, not one darn one of you got to be concerned about changes to the Old Age Security, that's for, and your families', financial future is tightly and solidly secured.

  • BPeddle
    February 24, 2012 - 12:08

    Ahhhh, finger pointing again. Tisk Min. McKay trying to say that what he did is ok because others before him have done it? A very lame excuse in my books. Wrong is wrong, so just apologize and get it over with already!

  • David
    February 24, 2012 - 12:02

    They all steal, they all cheat, they all lie. Are you people so utterly naive and stupid that you just rant on about which side did it last? Really? You'e broke folks...they stole it all, they're stealing it right now, they'll steal more tomorrow, and after the next election a whole new bunch will start stealing. Yay!

  • MnoTarperfanomore
    February 24, 2012 - 11:39

    Stop blaming it on Mr. Harper for everything !! Election frauds akin to Bush Florida you say ? He stole the election by cheating ? He didn't do anything wrong !! How can he be responsible for overjealous supporters do in their backroom ? Hey nobody got hurt right ? so few votes come and go ani;t gonna change political landscape with conservative winnings. Who cares if we spend more money , I mean we got $$$ right ? So as long as we win and , hey, we can always tell them they are wrong ha ha. It worked. It's so easy . We want to fill the Senate with good people and we have the right to do it. We don't want to break up the senate either . why ? It's working so well now.. Others complain too much pension money wasted on politicians. What reforms ?? who needs it ? Hey I don't see Liberals or NDP complaining , do you ? We have the right to defend ourselves from unfair scutiny over few heli rides.. for pits sake !! Peter wants to get back to work as soon so what's wrong ? He's hard working man. look see we said we will buy those F35 and we kept our word no matter what. We'll find another ways to fill in the shortfalls Provinces are crying about. So what if few minutes was spent to look up Simms ? We coservative party own the country for now and they are sooo jealous. I don't want it to become detractor from carrying on with job at hand. So what's wrong with making mandatory jail sentence to anybody caught doing harm to citizens ? Good strong fence makes good neighbors. And like in marriage it's the little things that breaks up the relationship. Little criminals are the pests that ruins the house. So I totally approve new crinmal law for it cleans up the street for whatever the cost. They say it only costs $100,000 per prisoner a year . Hey that's better than building a rehabs or paying for their trainings or even paying for some living allowances so they can find decent jobs . they say that will only cost under $20,000 a year or even less . Hey who's gonna guarantee that's gonna work ? As always few of them will always go out and cause more troubles so I say just dump N and throw away the key. I'll be more than glad to pay for it with arms and legs if I can have the rest of body left for peace of mind. I think we are in good hands . So leave us be.

  • Dwayne
    February 24, 2012 - 11:12

    Right on Stan!! There is a LOT of difference in hitching a ride compared to using a Cormorant for your own convenience.....

  • Tim
    February 24, 2012 - 10:56

    Why does the left make such a hoopla over this? Liberals are really the most dangerous type of political stripe in Canada. Why? Well one of their darlings, now deceased, in replying to a reporter's question in 1970 as to how far he would go to suspend Canadian civil rights over one murder and kidnapping said "Just watch me." In other words the Liberal opinion of civil rights is nil. Liberals are definitely the more dangerous of the political types. Funny, they still idolize that now deceased politician. Definitely a very dangerous lot! Watch out Canada, Liberal shenanigans are worse than Conservative ones!

  • david prior
    February 24, 2012 - 10:28

    Pity Major Johnson and Capt O"Brien do not spend more time improving the search and rescue situation. They are being paid well to do that, not to dig up rubbish about MP's.

  • Stan
    February 24, 2012 - 10:21

    There is a difference with those riding along on SAR training as opposed to ordering a taxi ride from a fishing lodge. This Harper Gang know no lows . "Chopper " Mackay fits well with these low lifes. "Traitor" MacKay is the cause of the gang ruining Canada. He sold out the good PC party for a few pieces of silver...

  • give me a break
    February 24, 2012 - 10:11

    BUT... BUT... the liberals done it too.. Berton Winters , a 14 year old boy ,still froze to death waiting for help.

    February 24, 2012 - 10:01

    WELL WELL, the shoe is on the other foot. when are those politicians including simms going to get it. its us the TAXPAYER, are you listening simms, THE TAXPAYER who pay for all of this. you the ( LIBERALS ) and your NDP buddies are no different then the conservatives, but am i surprised, NO, all of you are tarred with the same brush. CORRUPTION seems to be alive & well in my home province. DISGUSTING !

    • Vikki
      February 24, 2012 - 16:13

      James, Is this gibberish that you've written supposed to be a statement, a question, or just a way for you to show your awesome writing skills? From what I can disect of your "statement" you seem to think that all three of the national parties are corrupt. If all three parties are corrupt, who do we vote for - the Bloc? You comment fairly regularly and seem to have quite a hate on for Mr. Simms (notice the capital letter - they are for proper nouns like names and also the pronoun I - not just for online yelling) Makes a person wonder what the beef is there. In the future can you please use spell check before you post.

  • Randy
    February 24, 2012 - 09:36

    Who is this mayor Johnson of Gander anyway--Seems like he's stuck in the arse pocket of Harper. And this capt O'brein?? Wonder is he related to other O'breins in around there.. These peaple should just mind their own bussiness and let Mr.Simms continue to do a great job..Is the mayor and the military involved in witch-hunting for Harper and Mackay????

  • Political watcher
    February 24, 2012 - 09:24

    Simms spent five hours which would be easily be justified as an observation of the service; it is not like he called to be picked up t a supermarket and taken home. McKay was picked up at a fishing lodge and transported to an airport, not sure what he was able to observe there.