Alberta PC leadership contender spent $20,000 on roaming charges, documents show

Alberta PC Leadership candidate Thomas Lukaszuk speaks during a leadership forum in Edmonton,...

Alberta PC Leadership candidate Thomas Lukaszuk speaks during a leadership forum in Edmonton, Alta., on August 18, 2014. (David Bloom/QMI Agency)

Matt Dykstra, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:29 PM ET

EDMONTON — Progressive Conservative leadership contender Thomas Lukaszuk stuck taxpayers with more than $20,000 in international data roaming charges while on a personal trip to Poland and Israel in 2012, documents show.

The former deputy premier took a week off at the start of the legislative session in Oct. 2012 to travel to Poland and Israel as part of the "Compassion to Action" program which raises awareness about hatred, tolerance, and human rights.

Lukaszuk said he was invited by the Simon Weisenthal Centre to join an Auschwitz survivor in Poland on Oct. 19, then left for a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Israel on Oct. 25 before returning to Canada on Oct. 30.

He paid an estimated $7,000 out of his own pocket to go.

But while there, Lukaszuk said he exchanged a large amount of government and legal documents on his iPad, as well as Skype-called into cabinet committee meetings.

A wireless bill dated November 21, 2012, shows 2.19 gigabytes of data used by Lukaszuk on the trip was charged to the government at a cost of $20,243.91.

"When you travel as a minister, you pre-plan as much as you can. When something goes sideways in Alberta, all of a sudden you're inundated with documents. We're talking document packages are being sent to you by data transfers," he explained.

"So when I came back, I dealt with executive council and I said, 'Guys, we're not paying this bill. Negotiate it. Bring it down because this is ridiculous,' and they negotiated with the service provider but they couldn't bring it down."

Lukaszuk refused to consider paying it back because it's "the unfortunate cost of doing business."

"The fact is, it was unavoidable," he said.


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