Published On: Sat, Sep 8th, 2012

Oda costs included $250 hotel smoking fine, files show

Former federal cabinet minister Bev Oda was fined $250 US for smoking in a Washington, D.C. hotel room in 2010, a fee she initially expensed but later repaid two years later, her former department has confirmed.

Oda, who had been Canada’s minister of international co-operation, had been in the U.S. capital for a conference organized by maternal health advocates.

The smoking penalty was among expenses charged to taxpayers by Oda, who in July resigned from cabinet and the House of Commons.

Her department confirms she expensed the fee, but says she paid it back two years later following a review of all her expense claims.

Hotel costs made headlines

That review was ordered in April after The Canadian Press revealed a number of extravagant expenses on a trip to London in 2011, including a $16 glass of orange juice.

Cabinet ministers are required to publicly disclose their spending on travel and hospitality.

The files made public for Oda show that expense reports for several trips during her five years as international co-operation minister have been amended. But the details of why they were changed aren’t posted to the website.

Officials in her department say some — but not all — of the amendments in her expense claims are the result of repayments.

A total dollar figure for the amount she was forced to repay the public purse has never been revealed, but her office insists that every questionable expense was repaid.

During the London trip in 2011, she billed taxpayers for the cost of rejecting one five-star hotel and rebooking at a swankier establishment at more than double the rate.

She also hired a luxury car and driver at an average cost of nearly $1,000 a day. In 2006, she used limousines to ferry 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 the taxpayer $2,200 of the bill.

A year later, Oda billed taxpayers more than $1,200 for another limousine ride that took her to both a government event and a party activity.

(CBC News)

free stats