Bev Oda is Conservative Exhibit A for entitlement
Published Friday, April 27, 2012 5:00PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 5, 2012 10:42AM EDT
There are three stages to assess the failing health of a Stephen Harper cabinet minister.
When a senior minister is ordered to defend you from intense Question Period attack, you're in intensive care.
When Harper must personally justify your poor behaviour while wearing the dark face Laureen sees when ordering him to eat more broccoli, you're in palliative care.
And when a minister claims complete innocence hours before the Prime Minister's Office orders them to deliver an "unreserved apology" for bad behaviour, you have a dead minister talking.
That's why International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda is a goner. Not if. Just when.
Her enthusiastic embrace for ministerial luxury is framed by a history of stretch limousines.
But her latest move to reject a five-star room at a London convention site to book a smoking suite in the city's ritziest hotel is boneheaded so many levels, I don't know where to begin.
This is, after all, the minister assigned to help refugees and fight famines. Yet her orange juice tab could feed a Third World family for several days.
This is also the minister who apparently failed to alert damage control specialists in the PMO, who at least have some expertise at defusing bombshells, to the incoming horror story before it rolled across the Canadian Press newswire.
And by reimbursing taxpayers for the hotel upgrade and related limousine costs so reluctantly and gradually, she turned a two-day scandal into a full week of government bombardment.
This prime minister does not fire his chosen ones easily. But he has plenty of backbenchers who would not be as blind to the consequences of lavish charge carding, knowing the receipts could and would ultimately find their way into media hands.
The minister who is our political face to the world on matters of humanitarian calamity is now Conservative Exhibit A for snobby entitlement.
Not even Stephen Harper, whose pride goeth before the fall of any minister, can let this optical disaster go unpunished.
Bev Oda must be replaced now and not shuffled out under cover of late Friday darkness in July when the PMO hopes nobody will notice.
Her ouster needs a clear link to this behaviour to make sure the rest of the cabinet and government understands that what she did was intolerable.
Stephen Harper must reveal the political price of a $16 orange juice and a lavish smoking room upgrade is to lose the future perks and pay of a federal cabinet minister.