A refugee camp and a game park hotel: Bev Oda goes to Africa

The former minister charged taxpayers for hefty rebooking fees

Sean Kilpatrick/CP Images

In the middle of a five-day visit to East Africa in 2011 to assess the effects of a devastating famine and to meet members of the new government in South Sudan, then Minister of International Cooperation Bev Oda switched hotels in Nairobi so she could stay at one adjacent to a game park.

A source familiar with the advance plans for Oda’s trip said the former minister’s schedule was structured to allow her time to go on safari.

Documents released under the Access-to-Information Act seem to confirm this. They also show that flight changes for Oda and her staff — which extended the trip and gave the now-retired politician a day at the game park hotel with no official business to attend to — cost taxpayers $2,000.

Oda and three other governent employees arrived in Nairobi on July 20 and checked into the luxury Tribe Hotel in Nairobi’s diplomatic district. Oda had meetings on July 21. On July 22, she and other Canadian officials chartered a plane (at a cost of more than $6,000) to visit the Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya.

On July 23, Oda moved to the Ole Sereni Hotel, which bills itself as “the city hotel by the game park” and offers guests trips to nearby Nairobi National Park. She had no official business scheduled that day. Oda attended a press conference with the World Food Program’s executive director the following day, July 24. On July 25, she took a day trip to Juba, South Sudan, before boarding a return flight to Canada that evening.

Access-to-Information documents show that a draft schedule, dated July 15, would have had her visit Juba on July 23 and return to Canada on July 24. Tickets to Nairobi were already bought matching this schedule. Changing the tickets resulted in hefty rebooking fees.

Margaux Stastny, spokeswoman for current Minister of International Development Christian Paradis, said in an email that the government is “not aware of the specific activities of [Oda],” and that it is “our understanding” that Oda made the schedule changes.

She did not answer questions from Maclean’s about why those changes were made, or whether Oda visited a game park while in Africa on government business. Maclean’s left a message at a number it believes to be Oda’s home, but the call was not returned.




Browse

A refugee camp and a game park hotel: Bev Oda goes to Africa

  1. I realize you guess invested in some fees for the access to information but this is no longer really news. Much like my Conservative friends who rail against Marc Harb, Bev Oda’s misdeeds are no longer important enough to hold anyone’s attention.

    • For the specific case there might be an argument, but generally the falsifying documents to bolster a decision they were totally in control of anyway still strikes me as a nadir for the CPC. Still amazed that was just icing on the cake and the orange juice was the bigger deal, it’s hard to argue it shouldn’t have been the opposite.

    • Shame on the Harper, another misdeed from the many of his government of 8 years.

  2. On the bright side, a glass of orange juice is a steal at $1.95.

  3. It never fails to amaze me why politicians[any politician] who wanted to make a side trip to see a national park in Kenya for instance, wouldn’t simply say the changes and extra costs are on me. These aren’t poor people, far from it.
    Maybe what we need is an independent commissioner who orders them to reimburse tax payers wherever necessary. Failing that put all their expenses on line.

    • I have mixed feelings about forcing MP’s to post their expenses on line. It would certainly reduce the number of completely out of line expenses. On the other hand, some MP’s might find their expenses targeted for purely partisan reasons.
      I absolutely agree that if an MP or Cabinet Minister wants to take a side trip it should not be on the public dime. It’s enough of a perk being there in the first place.

  4. But … has she become a lobbyist ( registered or unregistered )
    yet ? I hear Development and Peace is looking for a useful person.

  5. Does someone have an axe to grind with Bev Oda? She retired. Let it go, it’s not even a significant amount of money.

  6. Harper, why are you not doing your job? Why are you morally and ethically corrupt in Ottawa paying her bills? We debt-tax slaves need a laugh.

    Geez…the utter corruption in Ottawa amazes me.

  7. This is bottom of the barrel journalism.

  8. It is not right to say this story isn’t relevant. This sad troll of a minister deliberately chartered a plane on a Friday to tour a refugee camp. Foreign dignitaries always use UN flights which were available on the Saturday. The funds used to charter the plane (at least 6k) came out of an aid budget. Money that should have been spent putting rice into kids’ beliies was spent so she could shoot a photo op with people living in horrible conditions. Why? Because she wanted to go on safari on the taxpayers’ dime on Saturday. Where is the accountability? Not only should she pay back the funds used for this horrendous abuse of power, taxpayers should have the right to clawback her generous pension.

  9. I still think she should be made to pay it all back and have her pension revoked. set it to an appropriate level.

Sign in to comment.