Oda apologizes for pricey London trip
Published Tuesday, April 24, 2012 10:14PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 8:07AM EDT
International Development Minister Bev Oda apologized Tuesday for billing taxpayers for a swanky hotel stay and a $16 glass of orange juice while on a government trip in London, England last year.
Under fire from opposition parties in the House of Commons during question period, Oda stood up and admitted that her trip expenses were unacceptable.
"I unreservedly apologize," she said.
CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not spoken directly to Oda since the uproar over her expenses began.
There is also speculation that a cabinet shuffle will be coming before the House of Commons breaks for summer.
It was revealed Monday that Oda rejected a five-star hotel in London, where she was attending a conference on international immunizations last June, and instead had her staff rebook her into the Savoy, another five-star hotel that cost more than twice as much.
Oda's stay at the Savoy cost $1,995, at $665 per night, on top of $287 for the cancelled room at the first hotel, the Grange St. Paul's.
Among her expenses was a $16 orange juice at the Savoy.
Hours after The Canadian Press revealed Oda's hotel upgrade, her spokesperson said she had repaid the difference between the two hotels, the cancellation fee for the first room and the orange juice.
But NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus demanded to know whether Oda would also repay the cost of a luxury car and driver she hired to shuttle her between the conference site and the hotel. Documents obtained by The Canadian Press show the car service cost an average of nearly $1,000 a day.
Government House Leader Peter Van Loan said Oda did the right thing by reimbursing taxpayers for the costs associated with changing hotels and apologizing.
The backlash from opposition parties and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation was swift on Monday. Critics said Oda's lavish spending was ironic in light of recent government cuts to pensions and essential services.
On CTV's Power Play on Tuesday, Angus accused Oda of being a repeat offender.
"She's got this proclivity for limousines that's shocking," he said, referring to a 2007 ride during the Juno awards that cost taxpayers more than $5,000.
"Who is she, Eddie Van Halen?" he said.
Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro said that Oda had apologized, and he pointed to his party's record of cutting operating costs and curbing expenses in the Prime Minister's Office and elsewhere.
"That's our government's record: travel, hospitality -- all down from 2005 when the Liberals were in government," he said.