The minister responsible for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has resigned from both Stephen Harper‘s cabinet and her elected position as Conservative MP for the Ontario riding of Durham. The controversy-plagued Oda announced her resignation this morning without giving a clear explanation.
No doubt, the resignation is a bitter pre-emptive strike against Harper’s imminent cabinet reshuffle. She was a strong candidate for the boot. Since 2007, Oda has hopped from one public firestorm to another, especially over her spending habits. And for her politicization of CIDA funding decisions.
While attending an international donors’ conference in London last year, Oda switched from her original $287-a-night reservation at the posh Grange St. Paul’s Hotel, to a $665-a-night one at the more luxurious Savoy. According to the Toronto Star: “She also expensed a $16 glass of orange juice and nearly $3,000 to be driven around the city in a luxury car.”
This is a Canadian minister who was responsible for delivering humanitarian aid to the dying and starving in the world’s poorest countries through CIDA.
In 2008, Oda cut funding to KAIROS, a long-established faith-based foreign aid agency that works to promote for ecological justice and human rights around the world. The Conservatives accused KAIROS and other justice-oriented Canadian organization of hostility towards Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territories. In early 2011 she admitted to altering a CIDA memo that effectively overturned funding approval for the organization and was forced to apologize to the House of Commons.
According the CBC News, “there have been other cases that have prompted her critics to call her incompetent:
- Oda was also criticized for her handling of the government’s maternal health initiative stemming from the 2010 G8 summit hosted by Canada. There was confusion for months over whether abortion services would be funded and then controversy when the government confirmed they would not.
- In 2006, Oda used limousines to drive her to and from the Juno Awards ceremony in Halifax, racking up $5,475 in bills. When the expenses were criticized in the House of Commons, she said she had reimbursed taxpayers for $2,200 of the bill.
- AIn 2007, Oda billed taxpayers more than $1,200 for another limousine ride that took her to both a government event and a party activity. The NDP cried foul when those expenses were not spelled out in the government’s public disclosures.”