Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Harper treats journalists to Indian fare aboard his ‘Taj Mahal’ jet en route to India

Stephen Harper enjoys samosas at 41,000 feet

Steven Chase

Armed with samosas and tamarind sauce, Stephen Harper turned a photo opportunity at 41,000 feet into his own press gallery dinner for journalists accompanying him on a trade mission to India.

Mr. Harper has skipped every annual Parliamentary Press Gallery Dinner since he became prime minister. This presumably because the Conservative Leader – who casts himself as an outsider in Ottawa – fears it would confuse his political base if they saw him yukking it up with rivals and journalists.

The November 3 departure date of Mr. Harper's India trip conflicted with the real Press Gallery Dinner in Ottawa. His staff cited the missed dinner when they invited reporters to join the prime minister in the forward section of his Airbus 310.

Story continues below advertisement

Accompanied in his cabin by Indo-Canadian MPs including Parm Gill, Devinder Shory, Nina Grewal and Deepak Obhrai, Mr. Harper urged media to try the Indian goodies.

In fact, he was rather insistent – in a good-humoured way – that journalists take at least one samosa.

Back in the late 1980s, the purchase of this jet was criticized by opposition politicians who charged the plane was too extravagant. They dubbed it the "Taj Mahal."

The reality doesn't live up to the billing.

The 25-year-old Airbus 310 resembles a normal passenger plane except for two small cabins that have cushioned bench seating outside them.

One of these rooms is where Mr. Harper offered samosas to journalists.

The rooms are hardly opulent, though. They are finished in the same plastic and wood look as the interior of a motorhome.

Story continues below advertisement

Coincidentally, Mr. Harper's first stop on his six-day India trip will be the real Taj Mahal, the white marble mausoleum.

Mr. Harper lands in India Sunday. The media travelling on his plane are charged by the Prime Minister's Office to cover the cost of their flights and meals.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More

Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Globe Newsletters

Get a summary of news of the day

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.