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Canada PM under fire for shipping cars to India

$1m cost to fly vehicles for Harper’s official trip

Gulf News

Dubai: The Indian government’s fleet of Hindustan Motors Ambassadors weren’t good enough for Canada’s Prime Mininster to use during his state visit to the subcontinent in November.

And an armoured Mercedes Benz offered as a replacement by New Delhi was passed over by Ottawa. Instead, Stephen Harper had an armour-plated car and SUV flown out to India on a military cargo plane — costing Canadian taxpayers more than $1 million.

According to answers provided to Canadian parliamentarians, it cost Harper’s office $1,016,448 (Dh3,749,000) to fly the vehicles to India. They toured with Harper to Agra, Bengaluru, Chandigarh and New Delhi, transported in a Boeing Globemaster plane.

During Harper’s tour, the Indian government said it offered an armoured Mercedes Benz that was good enough for Australian PM Julia Gifford during her trip.

When pressed on the issue, Canada’s Foreign Affairs minister John Baird said India has lost two prime ministers in the last 25 years and faced a major terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008.

“When we look to the security of our prime minister, we consult the experts, those expects in security,” he said. “And when it comes to the national security and the security of our prime minister, we will take the advice from the [Royal Canadian mounted Police].”

Green party Leader Elizabeth May, however, believes the PM’s actions sent a wrong message.

“The implicit message is we didn’t think the Indian government could provide us with vehicles that were as of good quality as what we could bring from Canada,” she said.