The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Peter Worthington Headshot

Harper, Where's Bev Oda's Pink Slip?

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

Whatever one thinks of the Harper government, it's pretty hard to see why Bev Oda remains a cabinet minister.

Even if she weren't, she is so prone to stumble into scandals that you'd think a politician with judgement as shrewd as the Prime Minister would have relegated her to the back benches long ago.

Maybe even as far back as 2006 when she was caught if not exactly lying, not exactly telling the truth, either.

As Minister of International Cooperation, and before that as Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women, she's not Ms. Indispensable and vital to the nation and her party.

Just the opposite, in fact.

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae has criticized her, mentioning the need of " honesty and character" in good government. It's in this area that Oda seems repeatedly to stumble. If there's do-do around, she'll step in it.

At the moment, she's under fire for switching to the ultra-fancy Savoy hotel at a conference in London last June on immunization of poor children.

It seems the hotel where the Canadian group was booked and where the conference was held was a non-smoking hotel, and Oda smokes like a chimney. Her three days at the Savoy cost $1,995. Her glass of orange juice cost $16.

After the Opposiiton raised hell, Oda repaid the room cost difference of $1,353.81 -- but apparently not $1,000 in limousine costs. In the Commons, she admitted her expenses were "unacceptable, should never have been charged to taxpayers," and that she "unreservedly" apologizes.

What rubbish! Sure, she's sorry -- sorry she got caught.

She was also sorry, back in 2006, when she paid back $2,200 after it was discovered she expensed $5,500 in limo rides at the Juno Awards in Halifax. Again, in 2008, she was accused of hiding some $17,000 in limo expenses billed to taxpayers.

In February last year, she first pleaded ignorance to tampering with a 2009 CIDA memo rejecting funding for KAIROS. Later she had to acknowledge she'd ordered the word "not" be inserted in the funding memo that CIDA had approved.

At the time Speaker Peter Milliken said the controversy warranted further investigation, but the whole matter died when a non-confidence vote triggered a general election.

Whatever her other talents, Oda has a casual, socialistic preference to spend public money -- and to apologize only when caught.

Oda's background is in broadcasting, starting at TV Ontario in 1973, moving on to CITY-TV, then Global. She was a Film Review Board Member and a CRTC commissioner, and vice-president at CTV and Baton Broadcasting.

Perhaps all that time working for rich TV outlets conditioned her to spend her employers' money without accountability. Maybe such habits were hard to break once she was elected Conservative MP for Durham.

At any rate, frugality is not one of her virtues.

The CBC has noted that after Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz ($271,489), Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Foreign Minister John Baird, Oda had the highest travel and hospitality expenses over a two-year span.

And what's to show for it?

Little, except scandal. That, and a horrid example to the rest of the country of politicians feeding at the trough, then saying "sorry" when they're caught.

Surely even our long-suffering PM has had enough. Good-bye Minister Oda . . . and good riddance.