MPs Denounce Motion To Study When Life Begins

CBC  |  Posted: 04/26/2012 7:36 pm Updated: 05/09/2012 9:09 pm

International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda is now reimbursing taxpayers for the car and driver she hired during a trip abroad after saying earlier in the week that she had paid back all of the "inappropriate costs."


Her office did not confirm the exact amount that Oda is paying back for the car rental in London, England, last summer, but CBC has confirmed that it is known to be in the neighbourhood of $3,000.


One of the documents obtained through access to information legislation that revealed expenses for Oda's travel last June show the bill for the car rental was $2,850.


Oda's office said Thursday that she has repaid for the car service and "all incremental costs" that should never have been charged to taxpayers but did not specify what those costs include.


Oda offered an apology Tuesday for billing taxpayers for staying at London's swanky Savoy hotel instead of the five-star hotel she was originally supposed to stay at, where the conference she was attending was being held. Staying at the Savoy cost about $665 per night, more than double the cost of staying at the Grange St. Paul's hotel.


Oda also billed taxpayers for hiring a luxury car and driver, at a cost of about $1,000 per day, to transport her the two kilometres from the Savoy to the conference.


When the story broke on Monday Oda said she had nothing to be embarrassed about and that all Treasury Board guidelines were followed when she filed the expenses for last June's three-day stay in London. On Tuesday, however, she said the costs were unacceptable and never should have been charged to taxpayers.


She repaid taxpayers for the difference in cost between the two hotels, the cancellation fee that was incurred, and an orange juice that cost $16. In total, she repaid $1,353.81.


But opposition MPs called on Oda to also repay the amount for the car, since it would not have been necessary if she stayed at the original hotel where the conference was taking place. They argued the car was a cost associated with switching hotels, but Conservative House leader Peter Van Loan indicated Wednesday that no further payments would be coming from Oda.


"The minister has repaid the inappropriate costs. I think that is what the public would expect, that is what the opposition would expect, and I do not think she would be asked to repay costs that were appropriate," he said during question period.


Opposition MPs kept up their questioning on Thursday and interim Liberal leader Bob Rae asked Oda when she decided to also pay taxpayers back for the car service.


Van Loan took the question instead but didn't answer it. He said the government expects ministers to conduct government business at reasonable costs and that's why Oda has repaid the inappropriate expenses. He then brought up the sponsorship scandal and said Liberals should be paying taxpayers back for money still owed to them.


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  • Which Cabinet Ministers Oppose Abortion?

    The <a href="http://www.campaignlifecoalition.com/index.php?p=Find_Your_MP" target="_hplink">Campaign Life Coalition provides a listing of MPs who support and oppose abortion rights</a>. The list is based on voting records, previous comments and questionnaire responses. Here is a list of Conservative cabinet ministers who, according to the Coalition, oppose abortion. (CP)

  • Rob Nicholson

    Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. (CP)

  • Vic Toews

    Minister of Public Safety. (CP)

  • Peter Van Loan

    Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. (CP)

  • Jason Kenney

    Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. (CP)

  • Gerry Ritz

    Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board. (Handout)

  • Ed Fast

    Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway. (CP)

  • Lynne Yelich

    Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. (Handout)

  • Gary Goodyear

    Minister of State for Science and Technology and for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. (Handout)


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  • Where The Parties Stand On Abortion

    Here's a look at the official position of Canada's federal parties, and how the controversial debate has reared its head in recent years. <em>With files from CBC</em>

  • Conservative Party

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper has repeatedly said that he has no interest in addressing the issue head-on.<br><br>"As long as I am prime minister we are not opening the abortion debate," Mr. Harper said in April 2011. "The government will not bring forward any such legislation, and any such legislation that is brought forward will be defeated as long as I am prime minister." (CP)

  • NDP

    NDP leader Tom Mulcair has stated that his caucus is unanimous in its opposition to the private member's motion calling on Parliament to look at whether a fetus is a human being, but he plans to force his MPs to vote along party lines.<br><br>"We're resolutely in favour of women's right to choose," Mulcair declared. (CP)

  • Liberal Party

    Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae has stressed that the abortion issue is matter of individual conscience. Rae expressed his personal opposition to reopening the debate, but said Liberal MPs will be allowed to vote "their conscience" rather than force them to toe the party line.<br><br>"Our position on reproductive choice, my position on reproductive choice is very, very clear. It has been for decades. The position is it's a person's right to choose." (CP)

  • Planned Parenthood Funding Controversy

    Saskatoon-Humboldt MP Brad Trost tells Saskatchewan's ProLife Association in April 2011 that the federal government has decided to cut funding to the International Planned Parenthood Federation, a decision he says was influenced by anti-abortion supporters.<br><br>"I cannot tell you specifically how we used it, but those petitions were very, very useful and they were part of what we used to defund Planned Parenthood because it has been an absolute disgrace that that organization and several others like it have been receiving one penny of Canadian taxpayers' dollars," Trost said.<br><br>Maurice Vellacott, a Conservative MP from Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, also calls for Planned Parenthood to be defunded.<br><br>Vellacott says the controversy over the funding "exposed the lies and destructiveness of IPPF's agenda."<br><br>"It exposes what this abortion giant is surreptitiously trying to achieve worldwide."<br><br>International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda approves funding. (CP)

  • 'Coerced' Abortion Law

    Conservative Winnipeg MP Rod Bruinooge proposes "Roxanne's Law" in 2010, a bill that would penalize anyone who "coerced" a woman into ending her pregnancy against her will.<br><br>"It's not just as simple as feeling pressured to get an abortion; there is a lot of discussion of sex-selection abortion these days, as well," Bruinooge told the Winnipeg Free Press. "It's part of the overall topic of intimidation that goes towards a pregnant woman."<br><br>Bruinooge insisted the bill wasn't meant to force Parliament to wade into the debate banned by Harper, stating that nothing in his bill made it illegal to abort a fetus.<br><br>But the Liberals and New Democrats saw it as a backdoor entry into the touchy topic.<br><br>"How is an abortion bill not an abortion bill?" said then-Liberal MP Anita Neville. "This certainly introduces discussion into the House of Commons and it is a rather sneaky way of doing it."<br><br>Then-NDP leader Jack Layton echoed her concerns. "You have got to wonder what is really going on here."<br><br>The bill was defeated in December of 2010, with 178 votes for and 97 against it. Harper and many Conservatives voted against it and 10 Liberals supported it. The NDP was unanimously against it. (Handout)

  • Maternal Health

    International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda discloses for the first time in April 2011 that Canada will not fund abortions in its G8 child and maternal health-care initiative for developing countries.<br><br>Keith Martin, then-Liberal MP who had defected from the Tories years earlier, expressed outrage. "People here are perplexed and wondering why Canada is rolling back the clock and depriving women in developing countries from having the same rights to basic health care and access to abortion as women in Canada," he said.<br><br>Then-NDP leader Jack Layton accused the Tories of putting Canada on side with former U.S. president George Bush, who reduced support for abortion-related aid.<br><br>"It's picking up the banner that George Bush used to carry, and I think that that's not something that would be supported by the majority of Canadians, that's for sure," Layton said.<br><br>On June 25, Canada pledged $1.1 billion to a global initiative on maternal and child health for developing countries - a disproportionately high amount compared to other G8 countries. Canada did not allow for its share to be used in the funding of abortions. (CP)

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Filed by Christian Cotroneo  |