Bev Oda was notorious during her relatively brief political career for becoming embroiled in scandals, particularly those regarding her use of public funds. However, she also managed to get in trouble for allegedly lying to parliament and smoking in various places where she shouldn’t, ignoring fire and health regulations.
$16 dollar orange juice
Perhaps Oda’s most famous extravagant expense that she charged to the Canadian taxpayer was a $16 dollar glass of orange juice. She claimed to have been working hard and did not regret taking the juice, though she did concede that it was not the best use of public funds.
That incident happened at the world-famous Savoy Hotel in London, where she was attending a conference. In fact, maybe Oda could have avoided the embarrassment if she’d stuck to the original plan. That would have seen her stay at the same hotel where the conference was held (Grange St. Paul’s, also a 5-star). Instead, for reasons she never disclosed, Oda ordered her staff to book her into the Savoy at $665/night, while also having to pay a $327 cancellation fee to the Grange. Of course, now that she was staying at a different hotel she needed transport to go the conference, a problem she easily solved, hiring a chauffeured limo to take her around town at $1,000-a-day. All charged to the grateful Canadian taxpayer naturally!
Bev Oda’s biggest non-expense related scandal concerned KAIROS, a Canadian rights advocacy group. In 2009, it was told that its application for funding from the CIDA had been rejected with suggestions that its support of the BDS boycott against Israel and its desire to hold Canadian mining companies abroad accountable were responsible. Oda herself said that KAIROS no longer fit the goals of the CIDA. However, in 2010 it was revealed that Oda had actually been advised to accept their application for funding, but “NOT” had been written over this advice subsequent to her advisors signing it.
In parliament Oda initially claimed she “did not know” who had added the “NOT” but upon further investigation it was found that she had “caused confusion” for the parliament as she had instructed an aide to write it. Facing more questioning, she was saved by the fact that parliament dissolved due to a no-confidence motion.
While attending the Juno awards in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2006, in her capacity as Heritage Minister, Oda managed to rack up almost $5,500 in limo fees over four days. That’s after rejecting the hire car that had initially been offered. But perhaps most galling of all for taxpayers was the fact that the event was being held 100 metres from her hotel! She later returned $2,200 of the $5,475 she had charged.
Following the Savoy and Orange Juice scandals it emerged that in 2010, while staying in a Washington, D.C. hotel, Oda was fined $250 for smoking inside her non-smoking room. Well we say Oda was fined, she actually went on to claim that $250 back as an expense from the public purse.
It was widely reported that Oda smoked at will in her offices, flouting the applicable health and safety regulations, all while her department was funding initiatives to cut smoking in developing countries. She also expensed an air purifier for her office so she could smoke freely.