International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda's office is refusing to say whether she has paid taxpayers back for any inappropriate travel costs in addition to the lavish hotel and chauffeured car she expensed for a trip to London last summer.


Oda's office also won't say why travel expenses for trips to Haiti, Korea and East Africa over the last year have been amended on her department's proactive disclosure website.


Oda, who is the MP for the Ontario riding of Durham, is in charge of the Canadian International Development Agency.


There could be acceptable reasons why the airfare, meal and other expenses were changed from the original amounts, but Oda's office won't provide any details.


Stephanie Rea, Oda's director of communications, acknowledges that past expense claims were recently reviewed and amended, "in the interest of accountability," but won't explain why or what exactly was changed.


The refusal to provide information comes in the wake of last month's controversy when details emerged about Oda charging taxpayers with a stay at the swanky Savoy hotel in London last June. The room cost more than $600 per night.


Oda was originally supposed to stay at the hotel that was hosting the conference she was attending, but upon arrival in London she booked a room at the Savoy instead. Oda also billed taxpayers about $1,000 per day for a car and driver to transport her to the conference, a short cab ride away from the Savoy.


When the Canadian Press broke the story, Oda said she had nothing to be embarrassed about — but wouldn't explain why she switched hotels. Her office said all Treasury Board guidelines were followed.


Oda paid back $2,671.45 for car and driver


The minister then backtracked on April 24 and offered an apology in the House of Commons. She said the expenses were "unacceptable" and should never have been charged to taxpayers. She personally paid back $1,353.81 to cover the tab for the difference in cost between the two hotels, a cancellation fee, and a $16 orange juice from the Savoy.


But opposition MPs demanded she also cover the costs of the car and driver, since they were directly related to the change in hotels. Oda's office said she would pay back the added transportation cost, but didn't provide an amount.


CBC News has confirmed that amount was $2,671.45, bringing the total amount of Oda's reimbursement to $4,025.26.


When asked if Oda has repaid taxpayers for any other trips that she originally filed expense claims for, Rea responded that all of her expenses are disclosed through proactive disclosure and that no further information could be provided.


Proactive disclosure is a policy that, according to Treasury Board, is meant to enhance transparency and oversight of public resources. One of its measures is the mandatory publication on departmental web sites of travel and hospitality expenses.


The limited information that is posted online does not indicate whether Oda personally paid for any portions of any of her trips.


Rea was asked repeatedly over the course of several weeks whether Oda has repaid taxpayers for any expenses that she originally claimed, in addition to the London trip, and to explain why entries on the proactive disclosure pages for several of Oda's other trips have been amended.


Expenses "re-examined"


She refused to answer the questions. "At this time, all I can say is that all expenses were re-examined, all in the interest of accountability," she wrote in an email.


"I apologize, but I'm sticking with my answer," Rea said in a follow-up phone conversation.


The proactive disclosure section of Oda's department website shows expenses for the following trips have been amended:


- Meal expenses for Oda, Rea, and one of Oda's policy advisors, Alayna Johnson, were amended for a trip to Haiti in January. The total cost of the trip for all three people was $10,034.34.


- "Other expenses" filed for Oda's trip to Korea in late November and early December were amended. Johnson's expenses for transportation, accommodation, meals and "other expenses" were also amended. The total cost of the trip for Oda and Johnson was $15,166.32


- Oda, her executive assistant Clarissa Lamb and Johnson travelled to Kenya and Sudan last July and their airfare expenses have been amended. They each spent around $9,000 according to the most recent posting. Total expenses for the trip were $32,799.21. That includes $523 in airfare that Johnson spent for an "urgent return" from Calgary so that she could go with Oda to East Africa.


The London trip was not the first time Oda paid taxpayers back. In 2006, she used limousines to ferry her to and from the Juno Awards ceremony in Halifax, racking up $5,475 in bills. When the expenses were criticized in the House of Commons, she said she had reimbursed the taxpayer $2,200 of the bill.


A year later, Oda billed taxpayers more than $1,200 for another limousine ride that took her to both a government event and a party.


Earlier on HuffPost:

ODA'S FAVOURITE LONDON HOTEL SAVOY
  • Savoy Hotel

    The Savoy hotel name is lit in green neon at the front entrance on December 6, 2007 in London. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

  • Prince Charles At The Savoy

    Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales leaves after the Savoy hotel's grand re-opening on November 2, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images for The Savoy)

  • Savoy Hotel

    (Savoy/Fairmont Hotels)

  • Savoy Hotel

    (Savoy/Fairmont Hotels)

  • Savoy Hotel

    (Savoy/Fairmont Hotels)

  • Savoy Hotel

    (Savoy/Fairmont Hotels)

  • Savoy Hotel

    Actor Stephen Fry enters the Savoy Hotel. (Savoy/Fairmont Hotels)

  • Savoy Hotel

    (Savoy/Fairmont Hotels)

  • Savoy Hotel

    (Savoy/Fairmont Hotels)

  • Prince Charles At The Savoy

    Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales greets chefs at the Savoy hotels grand re-opening on November 2, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Roland Hoskins - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

  • Savoy Hotel

    Doorman Tony Cortegaca stands at the entrance to the Savoy Hotel on December 6, 2007 in London. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

  • Savoy Hotel

    A statue of a black cat called Kaspar sits at the entrance to the Savoy Hotel on December 6, 2007 in London. Kaspar the cat, carved in the 1920s from a single piece of wood by designer Basil Ionides, is placed on the table of 13 guests dining in private at the Savoy. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

  • Savoy Hotel

    LONDON - DECEMBER 06: A member of staff checks glasses on a table in the ballroom at the Savoy Hotel on December 6, 2007 in London. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

  • Savoy Hotel

    A worker cleans the revolving doors in the main entrance lobby of The Savoy hotel on December 6, 2007 in London. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

  • Savoy Hotel Contents To Be Auctioned Off

    Two concierges man the front desk at the Savoy Hotel on December 6, 2007 in London. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

  • Savoy Hotel

    Workers continue the 220 million GBP refurbishment of the Savoy hotel on August 10, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

  • Savoy Hotel

    Breakfast is prepared at the Savoy Hotel on December 6, 2007 in London (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

  • Savoy Hotel

    The Savoy hotel name is lit in green neon at the front entrance on December 6, 2007 in London. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)



Loading Slideshow...
  • Top 5 Political Spending Scandals

    Here are a few examples of some red-faced moments in public expense reports, in which those involved likely wished they had gone back and done -- or in the case of David Dingwall, said -- a few things differently.<br><br><em>With files from CBC</em><br><br>(CP/Getty)

  • 5. Cleaning The Moat

    Britain's parliamentarians became embroiled in scandal in 2009 over their declared expenses after the Daily Telegraph obtained an uncensored copy of their claims and published them.<br><br> Details disclosed by the newspaper showed how MPs from all parties manipulated rules by routinely switching the designation of their second home -- using public money to furnish and improve several properties and later sell them at a profit.<br><br> Facing fierce public fury as embarrassing details emerged daily, nearly 400 British MPs, including then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, were ordered to pay back close to $2 million in wrongfully claimed expenses.<br><br> But amid the outrage, one the most publicized cases was of that then Conservative MP Douglas Hogg, who was alleged to have expensed the cleaning of a moat at his family's country estate. Hogg agreed to repay the cost of cleaning the moat, but insisted he had only listed the cleaning cost as an expenditure on his house and never asked to be reimbursed. He decided not to stand for his seat in the 2010 election.<br><br> (MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 4. EHealth Ontario

    A scandal broke out in Ontario in 2009 over wasteful and untendered consulting contracts at eHealth, a provincial Crown corporation charged with creating an electronic health records system. The controversy over eHealth's spending led to the resignation of then Health Minister David Caplan.<br><br> Among the embarrassing revelations at eHealth, CBC News obtained documents that showed consultants, contracted by eHealth at up to $2,750 a day, billed taxpayers for out-of-pocket expenses that included $1.65 for a cup of tea and $3.99 for cookies.<br><br> The documents said eHealth CEO and president Sarah Kramer billed thousands of dollars for limousine rides, including one $400 trip from Toronto to London, Ont., before she left her $380,000-a-year job in June of that year.<br><br>(CP)

  • 3. Nova Scotia MLA Scandal

    Nova Scotia's provincial legislature was rocked by a report by the provincial auditor general that found that many MLAs submitted questionable expense claims over a number of years. The affair evolved into a criminal investigation that led to several MLAs resigning and at least one former member being sentenced to prison.<br><br> Ex-Liberal MLA Dave Wilson, pictured, pleaded guilty to defrauding Nova Scotia taxpayers of nearly $61,000 to support his gambling addiction and was sentenced last week to nine months of jail time and 18 months of probation. Crown attorneys in his case detailed how Wilson submitted 36 false expense receipts using five people's names -- including his niece and brother-in-law -- totalling $60,995. Wilson apologized to his family and the people of the province, telling the court he was deeply ashamed of his actions.<br><br>(CP)

  • 2. George Radwanski

    Former federal privacy commissioner George Radwanski resigned in 2003 under a cloud following intense scrutiny of his spending. At the time, Radwanski blamed "a powerful political backlash from some who would prefer a less forceful privacy commissioner." His severance package was initially $82,562, but later cut to nothing.<br><br> Radwanski resigned after a Commons committee called for a full audit of Radwanski's expense claims, which included more than $500,000 in travel claims, $250 drinks tabs and dinner bills of more than $450, usually shared with one staff member.<br><br> Auditor General Sheila Fraser's report called for an RCMP investigation of Radwanski after her department's audit revealed "a major failure of management controls and the abuse of public funds by the former commissioner and some senior executives, for their personal benefit."<br><br> In 2009, an Ontario judge acquitted Radwanski of criminal fraud charges, but criticized his "negligent and cavalier" approach to accounting for controversial expenses he claimed while in office. Radwanski's former chief of staff, Art Lamarche, was convicted of breach of trust. Radwanski acknowledged he wished he had done some things differently, but insisted he "never acted dishonestly or knowingly improperly in any way." <br><br>(CP)

  • 1. 'I'm Entitled To My Entitlements'

    In February 2006, former Liberal cabinet minister David Dingwall was awarded $417,780 in compensation after an independent arbitrator concluded he was forced out of his $277,000-a-year job as head of the Royal Canadian Mint.<br><br> His removal from the head of the Crown corporation came amid a frenzy caused by unproven allegations that he and his office made improper and excessive expense claims, as the then Liberal government was reeling from the inquiry into the federal sponsorship scandal.<br><br> Opposition MPs, including then Opposition Leader Stephen Harper, portrayed the Dingwall case as a sign of Liberal misspending, accusing him of wasting taxpayers' money on reimbursement claims for expensive meals, excessive travel and even a pack of chewing gum. In the midst of the controversy over his resignation and compensation package, Dingwall drew the scorn of opposition parties when he said the now notorious words to a Commons committee: "I'm entitled to my entitlements."<br><br> Harper's party picked up the phrase and used it repeatedly as an example of Liberal arrogance during the campaign leading up to the Jan. 23, 2006, general election.<br><br> In fact, an independent audit of the expenses by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers later found that more than 70 per cent of them were incurred by other employees in Dingwall's office at the Mint, and that all the payments had been properly approved under the Crown corporation's guidelines.<br><br> A second independent review by law firm Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt concluded the governance of expendures at the Mint went "well beyond what one could expect to find in most private-sector corporations."<br><br>(CP)