Those who track Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda's regular missteps will recall that last fall she planned to hold a fundraiser hosted by a lobbyist for Canwest. When this conflict of interest was raised in the House of Commons, she responded that "I have observed every rule existing right now." Hours later, the fundraiser was cancelled. Fast forward to yesterday, when Liberal MP
Brian Michael Savage asked questions about Oda's use of limos at last year's Juno Awards in Halifax. It turns out that as Oda was moving between events (including her private lunch with CRIA and the foreign-owned record companies), Oda and her staff ran up $5,500 in limousine bills, ordering several cars each day with some idling for seven hours at a time. On the day of the Junos, Oda had three limos on stand-by at all times. All of this in a city where virtually everything is accessible on foot. Oda subsequently paid back $2,200 of the bill, but Canadian taxpayers are still left on the hook for thousands of dollars.
Oda's response to this latest embarrassment? "In carrying out my ministerial duties I followed all the guidelines appropriately." Not surprisingly, before she could say anything further, Government House Leader Peter Van Loon jumped in and assured the House that "we are proud to stand up and support Canadian arts and culture in every way we can and the minister has done an excellent job of doing that, at the same time following all the rules in place by Treasury Board in doing so."