Peter MacKay F-35 photo-op costs taxpayers over $47k

·Politics Reporter

Peter MacKay just can't seem to stay out of the headlines these days.

iPolitics is reporting that a 2010 photo-op with MacKay seated in a mock F-35 fighter-jet cost Canadian taxpayers $47,313.

The dollar amount was revealed Monday, in response to an order paper question put forward by Liberal MP John McKay.

"For a government that preaches constraint, it seems a little extreme," McKay told iPolitics Tuesday.

"But we want to have our hero shot, and our hero shot cost 47 thousand bucks. So there we are."

Jay Paxton, a spokesman for the defence minister, says almost half of the $47,313 spent by National Defence went to the audio-visual company that helped stage the event to announce Canada would purchase 65 F-35 fighter jets.

He told iPolitics the expense was necessary because the news conference involved a number of national media outlets, as well as more than 100 invited guests.

MacKay has been no stranger to political controversy lately.

Last September, he was forced to defend himself over a 10 minute trip on a search-and-rescue helicopter in July 2010. The helicopter picked up MacKay from a remote fishing lodge in central Newfoundland at a cost to taxpayers of $32,000.

In December, reports surfaced that MacKay incurred pricey hotel tabs during conference stays in Europe, which saw one bill reach $1,452 per night.

And more recently he's been ridiculed for the F-35 procurement boondoggle and mixed messages about the cost of the mission in Libya.

On Monday, the CBC ran a story claiming internal Defence Department emails showed that members of MacKay's staff were displeased that the military was not sufficiently supportive of the minister during the controversy surrounding the helicopter trip.

Who's going to defend the defence minister now?

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