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Fly Blackburn Fly 

[PoliticsWatch updated 5:00 p.m., August 9, 2007]

Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn.

OTTAWA -- Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn's office was accused this year of failing to disclose $150,000 in airplane rental expenses. But the minister insists that is not the case. 

Documents obtained by the NDP showed that Blackburn took more than 20 trips last year using an assortment of different charter aircraft companies to travel around Quebec in his role as regional development minister. 

However, those rental costs do not appear anywhere on the minister's proactive disclosure Web page for hospitality and travel expenses. Blackburn made a distinction and said the expenses are not listed under his ministerial expenses but instead appear on the departmental web site. 

The contracts for aircraft rental appear on the Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions Web site along with dozens of other contracts for departmental computer software rental and other services. The aircraft rental contracts disclosed on the departmental page do not specifically mention they were for the use of the minister. 

NDP MP Pat Martin accused Blackburn's office of hiding the travel expenditures in the "bowels" of his department and said the practice goes against the "spirit and the letter" of the Federal Accountability Act. "It should be readily transparent, not hidden away," Martin told PoliticsWatch. 

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