Harper stands by Oda as uproar grows
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is standing by International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda, despite moves by opposition MPs to have her found in contempt of Parliament.
The parliamentary uproar grew as Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff called for Oda's resignation, a day after she acknowledged a role in doctoring a document that cut off funding to a faith-based foreign aid agency.
Ignatieff said Tuesday that Oda "is tied up in knots" over the controversy, which centres on the agency KAIROS.
"What consequences will this minster face for misleading this House and misleading the Canadian people?" asked Ignatieff in Parliament on Tuesday.
"This is conduct unworthy of a minister," he added.
"How can the prime minister not demand her resignation?"
Prime Minster Stephen Harper responded by saying that Oda "has been very clear" about her decision.
"These kinds of decisions are the responsibility of minister. When we spend money on foreign aid, we expect it to be used effectively for foreign aid and that's the decision the minister took."
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney had initially said the group's funding was cut off because of its views on Israel. But Oda insisted it was a routine decision made by bureaucrats at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
But a key document revealed in December showed Oda and a pair of CIDA officials had, in fact, signed their names to recommend KAIROS receive its funding request.
At the time, Oda said she did not know who had amended the page with the single hand-written word, "not" that appeared to overrule the recommendation.
Responding to the subsequent furor during question period in the House of Commons on Monday, Oda conceded she had directed the change.
"The 'not' was inserted at my direction," Oda told the House. "Given the way the document was formatted allowing only for concurrence, this was the only way to reflect my decision."
The House of Commons foreign affairs committee has voted 6-4 in support of a motion rebuking Oda, and is expected to submit its report to House Speaker Peter Milliken in the coming days.
"The speaker will then have to rule on that," CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife explained in an interview Tuesday morning.
"If he should find her in contempt of Parliament, then it is going to be a much more serious situation for the prime minister," Fife added, noting that Stephen Harper has, so far, vowed to stand behind his embattled minister.
In the event Milliken finds Oda in contempt, Fife suggested that the viable options would then seem to be, "that she will either have to resign or the prime minister will have to fire her."
No MP has been found in contempt of Parliament since 1913.