Hours after questions were raised in the House of Commons, Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda cancelled a planned fundraiser on her behalf backed by the broadcasting industry. Yesterday, NDP Heritage critic Charlie Angus called attention to the fundraiser, noting that it promised to provide access to both Oda and guest speaker Industry Minister Maxime Bernier. He summed it up as "the broadcast review happens in two weeks. The cash grab happens next week. Why is the minister using her office to trade political access for political contributions?"
Oda responded by arguing that she was following the law ("I have observed every rule existing right now"). Hours later, she did an about face and cancelled the fundraiser. This should have been obvious – the Minister of Canadian Heritage simply cannot have a fundraiser hosted on her behalf by her friends in the broadcast industry.
The incident brings to mind Oda's earlier fundraising activities from the same industries as well as the Bulte fundraiser controversy during the last election. While those cases demonstrate that cash from the copyright and broadcast industries have been commonplace, it is evident that there is now far greater scrutiny of the lobbying activities on these issues and that accepting lobby money generates considerable political risk. Oda may have rightly cancelled the fundraiser (something Bulte should also have done), but her credibility as a Minister has clearly taken a hit.