A Canadian politician who helps distribute aid to poor nations apologized today for bilking taxpayers by rejecting a five-star hotel in London for the swanky Savoy, then enjoying a $16 glass of orange juice while she was there.
International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda repaid the treasury nearly $1,400 for her upgrade — including the OJ, CBC News reported.
"The expenses are unacceptable, should never have been charged to taxpayers,” Oda said in the House of Commons, CBC reported. “I have repaid the costs associated with (the) changing of hotels, and I unreservedly apologize.”
She didn’t want to stay at the Grange St. Paul’s hotel – at $287 daily – and instead checked into the Savoy for $665 per night, The Canadian Press reported.
However, she waited too long to cancel at St. Paul’s, and had to pay a $287 penalty, which taxpayers also covered.
What she didn’t repay, though, was $2,850 for a luxury car and driver she needed to travel to her conference – back at her original hotel, the St. Paul’s.
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The conference was about immunizing children in developing nations, and was attended by Bill Gates and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
“For the price she paid for the hotel, we could have vaccinated 140 children living in poor countries,” New Democrat MP Eve Peclet said in the House, according to CP. “Instead, the minister got a beautiful marble bathroom for herself.”
The mini-scandal comes just weeks after the Canadian government introduced austerity measures to control a rising deficit by reducing funds for many social programs and raising the retirement age.
Oda repaid the luxury expenses eight hours after The Canadian Press broke the story on Monday.
Her opposition critics questioned why Oda didn't repay the taxpayers sooner since the conference was held last June.
She tried to deflect blame later Monday before coming into work today.
“(The opposition) can be extremist and can use words that will catch people’s attention, but all of the guidelines have been followed and guidelines that have been agreed to by all parties, even those who are making the accusations,” Oda told reporters Monday, The Globe and Mail said.
This isn’t Oda’s first brush with lavish spending. She’s twice been caught charging her office for limousines and other expenses, once billing taxpayers more than $5,400 to attend the Canadian music awards ceremony.
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