Bev Oda: bad habits of various kinds

There’s a Marriott that offers smoking rooms at half the price just across the river from the Grange


Sean Kilpatrick/CP

Just when you think the Bev Oda expenses scandal couldn’t get any more, well, odious–it does. Now it turns out that in addition to her lust for luxury, another factor may have been at work in her decision to upgrade hotels at taxpayer expense: addiction.

The bare facts alone are bad enough. Last summer, the Minister of International Development was attending a conference on international immunization at the five star Grange Hotel St. Pauls in London, England, when she decided the conference accommodations–which included a swimming pool, full spa and luxury rooms with king-size beds–were simply inadequate. So she left her staff to suffer in the conference hotel and booked herself into the ultra-swanky Savoy up the road, a hotel favoured by Hollywood celebrities and Saudi royalty. As if that wasn’t enough, she also hired a car and driver, at the expense of roughly $1000 a day, to ferry her back and fourth, even though the Savoy is just four subway stops away on the London tube (that’s a journey time of under twenty minutes and a cost of less than five bucks each way). When her abuse of power first came to light on Monday, Oda was utterly unrepentant. She accused her critics of being “extremist” and grudgingly paid back the difference in hotel bills but not the cost of her car and driver. Then yesterday, she thought better of that, and offered a “full and unreserved apology,” for which she received a standing ovation from her fellow Tories in the Commons. It’s a sad day for Canadian politics when all it takes to earn the adulation of your peers is to reluctantly apologize for ripping off taxpayers only after you’ve been caught in the act. But wait, it gets worse. According to a theory floated yesterday in the House by Liberal MP Scott Andrews, the real reason Oda switched hotels was not just about luxury, but “her not being able to get a smoking room on site.” The minister’s press secretary refuses to elaborate on the reason why Oda switched her reservation, but, as everyone in Ottawa well knows, she enjoys any excuse to hack a dart.

If Oda chooses to endanger her own health by chain smoking into her late fifties that’s her affair–but expecting Canadian taxpayers to support her life-threatening habit while attending an international conference on global healthcare? That’s just downright reprehensible. And before you leap to the conclusion that Oda was simply being a slave to her habit (rather than her lust for the good things in life) by checking into the Savoy, be advised: there’s a Marriott that offers smoking rooms at half the price just across the river from the Grange. In other words, she had the option to puff in peace while saving Canadians money and she chose to waste it instead. That’s assuming, of course, that you agree providing a plush spot for Oda to smoke is in fact a waste of tax-payer funds, and think maybe that money might have been better spent on, oh I dunno, maintaining Canada’s commitment to foreign aid. Then again perhaps Oda feels her department can afford to splurge a little, having announced deeps cuts of roughly $377 million to the Canadian International Development Agency over the next three years. Consider for a moment the hypocrisy involved in cutting public funds to the world’s poorest and sickest people while using them to avail yourself of a posh spot to suck back a cancer stick or twenty.

That Oda only admitted she’d done wrong after two days of pressure from the media and the opposition just goes to show the Minister is every bit as self-destructive as her habit would suggest. Let’s hope she does what’s good for her–and quits.

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Bev Oda: bad habits of various kinds

  1. Did this person achieve anything in London?
    Are we proud of this odious person?

  2. Well firstly im not a smoker and i have no idea who this woman is or even care, because this is the same story us canadians hear every day. Sure shes in the headlines now, but there will be another scandal in two or three days of another canadian politician wasting our money and when that happens, this will be forgotten, and we will collectively shake our heads in disgust and anger and the cycle will continue. So our options are to shake our heads, or just ignore it altother. I think we will be happier with the latter choice, because this is a neverending cycle, and i for one have a sore enough neck already.

    • Exactly the reaction the Cons have come to rely on, regarding each of their serial mishaps: wait ’til the incident is flushed through the news cycle or the House recesses and continue business as usual.

    • Most Canadians know about the many,many misgivings of political parties and
      politicians. What can we do about it? Vote them out in the next election, big deal,
      we will just get the same all over again and again and again. Politicians live off the
      fact, that people have short memories and also feel that there is not much we can do about them.

  3. I’ve met Bev; she does stink of both stale tobacco smoke and a holier than thou attitude to all those she considers beneath her personal grandness. Despicable little women but then in keeping with the PM’s history of hiring incompetent and averous women for favoured appontments. It is his judgement we should be questioning and his inability to accept responsibility or share information on any topic that puts his fragile ego in a public forum.

  4. I’m waiting for Harper to shuffle his cabinet and make Odious Oda Health Minister. Think it can’t happen? Think “Ethical Tobacco”.

  5. Wow. ?. Great writing. eye opening details.

  6. what an ugly little troll she is. her voice, her absolute lack of charisma or any personal charm. she likely smells like a combination of tobacco, ben gay, and perfume. just ick.

    how did she ever get elected to anything?

    • Her actions are the issue here – not your opinion of the way she looks. Don’t lower the tone of the discussion w/ name-calling

  7. Why has she not been fired. Canadians struggle everyday to make ends meet and this woman spent $1000 per day on a limo? Disgusting!

  8. I am, constantly, amazed at how middle and lower income people vote against their own interests by falling for Harper’s neo-conservative clap-trap. These people continually show disdain for us but what do we do? Reward them with a majority!

  9. Did Gazebo Tony stand and applaud her repayment of the odious expenses along with his fellow Conservatives? Because he’s got a much bigger bill to repay…

  10. Time and time again the Harper Government has failed to display any consequences for just plain bad behaviour and judgment, there has been many opportunities with serveral Ministers that have taken advantage of the Canadian taxpayer and yet nothing happens, too bad as I think he was doing not a bad job on the world stage trying to position Canada in the trade markets, but he has lost a lot of credibility by not dealing with his ministers poor performance and behaviour and this becomes evident with the recent pools indicating the NDP and Tories are neck in neck, sad that the Prime Minister of Canada lacks leadership to clean up his own house and this has been something I believe since day one….

  11. Who in the hell does she think she is? $16.00 for a glass of orange juice? $1000.00/day for limo service? Very, very sad. So many Canadians are struggling to pay their bills and make ends meet, and we witness this blatant waste of tax payers money…And we continue to elect these fools into parliament!!!!!!

  12. Country Club Bev should be fired to write a book called “Travelling on the Taxpayers’ Dime”

  13. This is a system wide issue, not just a Bev Oda problem. It is an entitlement mindset that is developed over time by people in governing positions. We need to figure out a way to change the whole system or this will continue to happen.

  14. I wonder what other spending fiasco is going on with other Government officials and MP’s that are swept under the table?

  15. She is incompetent as well as entitled.

    I will offer the explanation that she has not been fired because she presents diversity in any cabinet photo or overseas event, in a sea of white male faces; I suspect if she were a white male she would have been kicked to the curb years ago.

  16. I am very surprised to see a spelling mistake in a Macleans article! Look for the line that says she hired a car to take her back and fourth. Fourth??? As in after third?? The word is FORTH. And don’t get me started on Bev Oda.

    • right on!!

  17. Is that Roy Orbison?

    • Beautiful…Roy Orbison re-incarnated as a politician. Could that explain the desire to spend tons of money and live in luxury? In the words of a famous country singer (not Orbison), “People accuse me of wasting my money. I spent 90% of it on booze, fast cars, and beautiful women. The rest I wasted.”

  18. Oda, the obscene…kick her sorry ass out of government and let her repay my hard earned tax dollars. Shame on this governmet!

  19. Corruption at the highest levels of government is very bad.
    So it is really telling when they engage in petty corruption.
    These people have no shame.

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