NDP says Conservative MP hid limo expenses
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Wednesday, May 7, 2008 7:51PM EDT
The New Democrats have accused Conservative MP Bev Oda of hiding thousands of dollars in limousine-ride expenses, incurred during her time as the government's heritage minister.
Oda spent nearly $17,000 on limo rides in her party's first 15 months in office, according to receipts obtained by the NDP through an access-to-information request.
New Democrat MP Charlie Angus said about half of that amount was never proactively included in publicly disclosed ministerial travel and hospitality expenses.
"This is a government that ran on an issue of accountability and transparency, and yet we see this immediate move to secrecy and a Treasury Board that breaks guidelines shamelessly," Angus told CTV's Mike Duffy Live.
It would not be the first time Oda has disclosed various expenses without including travel costs, Angus added.
In 2006, Oda paid back $2,200 to taxpayers after the Liberals found that she had incurred nearly $5,500 in limo rides at the 2006 Juno awards in Halifax. The amount was never mentioned on the disclosure of travel and hospitality expenses posted on the Department of Canadian Heritage website.
"Bev Oda has already been caught once with outrageous spending at the Junos and had to pay money back," said Angus.
"Now we find out about thousands and thousands of dollars worth of undisclosed secret trips, like $1,300 for a limo ride in Toronto one day when she went to a Conservative meeting ... Where does she live?"
That specific limo ride happened on March 17, when Oda billed $1,291.88 for a drive from her home to a Conservative candidate training session.
Conservative MP Jason Kenney said that Oda followed all the Treasury Board rules, and that the Tories still spend far less than the previous Liberal government.
"My understanding is that it was according to the appropriate guidelines," he said. "The fact is, people know about our spending because we post them and it's all transparent.
"I can tell you, as (Government House Leader) Peter Van Loan pointed out in the House of Commons, whether it's legal expenses or minister expenses in general, they are way, way down from what they were before."
However, the Conservative expenses referred to by Van Loan do not include some travel expenses, such as the $5,500 that Oda billed taxpayers for her Juno limo rides -- an amount still not listed on her expense disclosure.
With files from The Canadian Press