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Bev Oda secretive about her waste of tax dollars

International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda visited a refugee camp in Kenya last July. In recent weeks, her office has refused to explain why or how the amounts for expenses filed by the minister and her staff for that trip, and others, were amended from the original amounts.International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda’s office refuses to tell the Canadian people whether she has repaid the waste she charged Canadian tax payers for last Summer during her trip to London. While in London, Oda put Canadians on the tab for inappropriate travel costs, lavish hotel expenses, and chauffeured car service.

Oda’s office also won’t say why costs have been amended on her department’s disclosure site for her trips to Haiti, Korea and East Africa over the past year.

The refusal to provide details comes as Canadians recently found out about Oda’s spending spree overseas and her blatant attitude geared toward entitlements. Oda turned down an already lavish hotel for a more expensive one and put the tab on Canadian tax payers and one can imagine that if she hadn’t been caught, she would have never thought to repay her debt to Canadian society.

Oda’s decision to go to the more expensive hotel also added travel costs where she charged us $1,000 per day for chauffer service which could have been remedied with cab expenses instead.

When the story broke, Oda said she had nothing to be embarrassed about and didn’t explain the switch of hotels. Her office said that Treasury Board guidelines were followed. Perhaps she thought Canadian money was entitled to her… Nothing to be embarrassed about? this action alone is a disgrace.

On April 24, Oda backtracked, realizing the error in her ways and apologized to the House of Commons. She said her expenses were “unacceptable” and should never have been put on the taxpayers’ tab. Do you think she would have said that had she not been caught red handed?

Oda repaid $4,025.26 for her expenses to taxpayers but in all due principle, all future actions of this nature, regardless the MP and regardless the party should be outlawed and punished. Here we have a government telling Canadians to tighten its belts and in the meantime, we have federal ministers putting their hands into the national piggy bank at free will – this is inexcusable and should never be permitted.

The Treasury Board said that Proactive Disclosure is a policy that has been brought in to enhance transparency and public oversight of resources by forcing departments to post costs for hospitality and travel expenses on the web site.

Oda’s director of communications, Stephanie Rea, has been asked repeatedly if Oda had repaid her expenses that she originally claimed, including the London trip, and to explain the changes to the costs on the proactive disclosure pages but no answer was given.

"At this time, all I can say is that all expenses were re-examined, all in the interest of accountability," Rea said.

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

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.

Source: CBC News

In 2006, Oda charged Canadian taxpayers $5,475 for the limousines she used to go to the Juno Awards in Halifax and in the end only repaid $2,200 of the bill.

In 2007, Oda repaid taxpayers $1,200 for a limousine ride to a government event and party.

Oda should be forced to resign and sued for the expenses she owes and I am sure that the people out there who are reading this will agree that greater enforcement of accountability measures is needed and that no MP should ever be allowed to charge Canadian taxpayers for luxuries in the way that Bev Oda has and that the days of Entitlement in Ottawa must end and that it is time for Parliamentarians to be finally forced to be accountable to the Canadian people to whom they work for.

Let’s get this message out there and set Oda as an example for the other Conservative MPs that have committed similar actions and to discourage MPs from other parties from ever doing this if and when they get elected into a government position. Share this with your friends and family and let them know that the politicians they elect are supposed to be accountable and that there are MPs like Bev Oda who think they are special and entitled.

Before Canadians pay the price for mismanagement and waste through more austerity or tax hikes, government should be cleaned up first. I can think of several people and programs that are more deserving of the money Oda has wasted than Oda herself.

Don’t be fooled the next time the Conservatives run on a platform of accountability – obviously this is one of the biggest promises they broke.

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