House speaker Milliken asked to rule on Bev Oda
The opposition tabled a motion Thursday asking for the House Speaker to rule on whether International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda breached parliamentary privilege.
The foreign affairs committee of the House of Commons asked Speaker Peter Milliken to look into whether Oda deliberately misled the committee regarding the cancelling of funding for the faith-based group KAIROS.
Oda has been under constant fire since admitting earlier this week that she had someone doctor a Canadian International Development Agency document by adding the word "not" to it, negating the recommendation of funding for the group.
The issue dominated question period Thursday, as it has all week. And for the first time all week, Oda answered a question – but on Haiti. When a follow-up question was asked about KAIROS, Government House Leader John Baird answered for her.
NDP Leader Jack Layton demanded Oda be fired and said the controversy is part of a larger pattern coming from the Prime Minister's Office.
"She misled this house and arranged for a document to be forged and that's bad enough, but it's a pattern of abuse . . . that shows you cannot trust this government," Layton said during question period Thursday. "You can't trust them on prorogation, you can't trust them on access to information, on media access, on their own election law."
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff asked why the government was sticking behind a minister who "will not tell the truth."
"In our democracy the rules are clear, when a minister misleads Parliament, she resigns," he said. "The prime minister seems to think he makes the rules, but he's wrong. Canadians make the rules."
Baird defended Oda all through question period, sticking very closely to the same answer in multiple questions from the opposition.
"She is the one the made the decision not to provide the $7 million grant to this particular Canadian non-governmental organization," he said. "This is the kind of responsibility that ministers are supposed to take every day."
Baird did not address whether she misled Parliament.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper also spoke of the matter Thursday, saying he does not want his staff to blindly accept the advice of senior bureaucrats, and no organization is entitled to public money.
"You should know we are very clear with our ministers. We were elected to ensure that when we give out taxpayers' money that that taxpayers' money is used for purposes that will further the objectives of policy," he told reporters after a press conference in Toronto.
The Liberals launched an online petition called for Oda to step down Thursday, collecting 7,000 signatures by later in the afternoon.