Winnipeg to Ottawa? Hell of a commute
There is a baseball team in Ottawa called the Fat Cats. The team plays in the Intercounty League, very much in the “minors” but the players have dreams of the playing in the majors.
In the elite ranks of the federal civil service, things are a little different. Here, bureaucrats like David Langtry play minor league parts in the lives of Canadians but spend major league dollars.
You’ve probably never heard of Langtry, but he is likely the most high-flying bureaucrat we’ve got.
Langtry lives in Manitoba but commutes to Ottawa. By plane. On your dime.
Since he was appointed as deputy chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission in 2007 by his pal Vic Toews, Langtry has spent a small fortune flying back and forth to Ottawa, sometimes on a weekly basis. We not only pay for his flights and his ability to rack up the frequent-flyer points, we pay for his hotel and his food.
That’s right, the Canadian Human Rights Commission that is careless with your rights is also careless with your money.
Over the last few years, the CHRC has been discredited for tactics that involve posing as Nazis online to bait others into making racist statements, prosecuting only selected politically motivated complaints and attempting to censor Canada’s largest news magazine.
Langtry has billed more than $36,000 in hotel rooms for his trips to Ottawa, more than $36,000 for flights and almost $20,000 for meals. This doesn’t include his travels around the world conducting official business for the human rights commission in locales such as Trinidad and Tobago and Bangkok, Thailand.
Langtry says when he agreed to take the five-year appointment as deputy commissioner, he told the feds he wanted to stay in Winnipeg and they agreed.
The man who agreed, cabinet minister Toews, once worked in Manitoba politics with Langtry. Yes, just like the chief commissioner, Jennifer Lynch, Langtry is a Conservative appointee.
Asked why he doesn’t take a condo or apartment for those times that he’s in the capital, the deputy commish says it wouldn’t be that cost effective.
As for why we pay for his meals in Ottawa but not Winnipeg, well that’s just part of the deal he agreed to.
Part of his responsibilities include dealing with what is called the National Aboriginal Initiative, a program set up to “… strengthen relations with Aboriginal groups and foster a dialogue on how to incorporate the unique context of First Nations communities into human rights protection mechanisms.”
To deal with these native issues, Langtry says he needs to be in Winnipeg — yet admits that the bulk of his work is in Ottawa, where he decides which of the roughly 700 cases brought before the commission each year go on to the tribunal and which go to mediation.
By his own admission, Langtry spends about half his time in Ottawa yet continues to reside in Winnipeg and commute by plane.
This type of cosy deal for friends is what the Conservatives used to wail about in opposition. This time they have to wear it.