Opposition MPs aren't the only ones making Bev Oda's spending habits a thorn in the government's side – her own colleague, Conservative MP John Williamson, is also raising them as a point of contention within their caucus.


Williamson used to head the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and was also Prime Minister Stephen Harper's director of communications before he stepped down to run for his New Brunswick seat.


He confirmed to CBC News that he brought up the minister of international co-operation's travel and hospitality expenses behind closed doors at a weekly Conservative caucus meeting. Williamson would not elaborate on what he said, citing caucus confidentiality.


A spokesman from his office, however, said that what Williamson told the caucus could be taken in the context of his previous job with the CTF – an organization that advocates on behalf of taxpayers.


The CTF, according to its website, dedicates itself to lower taxes, less waste and accountable government. It created the annual "Teddy Waste Awards" to highlight government waste, named after a public servant who was fired over his expenses.


The displeasure with Oda from within her own ranks adds to the opposition's demands for her to be more accountable.


There was a call for her to be fired on Friday, from Liberal MP Mark Eyking, who called Oda an "embarrassment to Canada."


"Yesterday we learned that she changed her public travel expense claims with no explanation. Is the minister ready to admit that there are more $16 glasses of orange juice that she has charged to taxpayers? When will she be accountable for her bad behaviour?" he said during question period.


"Our government is committed to keeping expenses of ministers travelling at a reasonable cost to taxpayers," House leader Peter Van Loan responded. "That is why they are much lower than [what] the honourable member's party spent on ministerial travel when it was in government. In the case of the minister in question, all inappropriate costs have been repaid."


Eyking said Oda can't be trusted to manage her own travel expenses, let alone Canada's foreign aid and development budget.


"I don't know what's wrong with the prime minister, why doesn't he just can her? Fire her. What is he waiting for? The middle of the summer when no one's watching on the Hill to do a cabinet shuffle?" he said after question period.


Opposition wants Oda to testify at committee


Eyking said Oda should explain in front of a parliamentary committee why her travel expenses have so often been amended, according to the proactive disclosure section of her department's website. Ministers are required every quarter to post summaries of their travel and hospitality expenses and those of their staff.


The NDP also wants to see Oda before a committee. It plans to request the appearance of Oda and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird at Monday's foreign affairs committee meeting to talk about their departments' estimated spending. The NDP says Oda would get questions about her personal spending habits "for sure."


The CBC reported Thursday that Oda's office is refusing to answer whether she has paid taxpayers back for any other inappropriate travel expenses in addition to the ones from April. A Canadian Press story revealed that when she was in London last June she stayed at the swanky Savoy hotel – costing more than $600 per night – instead of the less expensive hotel she was booked at, and Oda hired a car and driver costing about $1,000 per day. An orange juice that cost $16 was also among the charges.


She ended up reimbursing the government $4,025.26 after the story broke and apologized for charging the "inappropriate" costs to taxpayers.


The entry for her London trip has since been amended on the proactive disclosure page on the website, but that's not the only change.


Expenses for trips to Haiti, East Africa and Korea over the last year have also been changed at some point after they were originally posted online. An asterisk beside the amount indicates it was modified.


It isn't clear from the website when, how, or why each amount was changed, and Oda's office won't provide explanations. All Oda's spokeswoman would tell CBC News is that they were reviewed "in the interest of accountability." Some entries, for Oda and some of her staff, were modified months ago.


It's not just expenses for trips in 2011 and early 2012 that were amended, some in 2009 and 2010 were also adjusted after they were originally filed.


For example: the airfare, transportation, accommodation and meal expenses for a 2009 visit to Mozambique and South Africa – total cost $13,255.11 – were also amended after they were first posted online.


There could be accounting errors or other reasons why proactive disclosure entries are later changed, but Oda didn't explain when asked in question period Thursday and her office didn't answer repeated requests to provide the information.


The responses from Oda and Van Loan on Thursday and on Friday don't make it clear whether she has paid back inappropriate expenses for only the London trip or other trips. Both of their offices were asked for clarification and they did not provide any.


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  • 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)



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