Bev Oda

Beverley Joan "Bev" Oda, PC (born July 27, 1944) is a Canadian retired politician. She was a member of the House of Commons of Canada, as well as the first Japanese-Canadian MP and cabinet minister in Canadian history. She represented the riding of Durham for the Conservative Party of Canada. She was appointed Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women on February 6, 2006. She was appointed Minister for International Cooperation on August 14, 2007. On July 3, 2012, Oda announced she was resigning her seat in the House of Commons effective at the end of the month following public controversy about her spending habits; she was dropped from Cabinet the following day.[1][2]

Bev Oda

Portrait of Minister Bev Oda in 2011
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Durham
In office
June 28, 2004  July 31, 2012
Preceded byAlex Shepherd
Succeeded byErin O'Toole
Personal details
Beverley Joan Oda

(1944-07-27) July 27, 1944
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Political partyConservative
Alma materUniversity of Toronto
Lakeshore Teachers College
ProfessionBroadcasting executive, communication consultant, teacher
PortfolioMinister of Canadian Heritage (2006–2007);
Minister for International Cooperation (2007–2012)

Early life, education

Oda, a sansei, was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario.[3] Her mother was interned at Bay Farm in 1942, and her father went to southwestern Ontario to work on a sugar beet farm. He moved to Fort William to do millwork (where he met his wife)[4] and later to Mississauga, Ontario.[5] Oda has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto[6] and studied at Lakeshore Teacher's College. A longtime resident of Mississauga, Oda taught at schools in the area.[7] Following her private sector career, Oda moved to Orono, Ontario in 1999.

Broadcasting career

She began her broadcasting career at TVOntario in 1973, and later worked for Citytv and the Global Television Network. Oda was an Ontario Film Review Board Member in 1986–87, and a Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Commissioner from 1987 to 1993. She became the Chair of FUND (now The Harold Greenberg Fund) in 1994. From 1995 to 1999, she was a Senior Vice-President of CTV and Baton Broadcasting. She was inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in November 2003, and was awarded The Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in recognition of work in broadcasting. She has also worked as a policy adviser to three Secretaries of State.

Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister

Oda was for many years a volunteer with the Progressive Conservative Party. She ran as a Conservative in Clarington—Scugog—Uxbridge in the 2004 federal election, and won a narrow victory over Liberal Tim Lang.

Following her election, Oda was named as the Conservative Party critic for the Ministry of Heritage. She has argued in favour of allowing more Canadian and foreign programming options in the country.

On November 15, 2004, she reintroduced Bill C-333, the Chinese Canadian Recognition and Redress Act, which calls on parliament to recognize the contribution of Chinese immigrants to Canada, and acknowledge the unjust past treatments of Chinese Canadians as a result of racist legislation. Oda is not herself Chinese, but is Canada's first parliamentarian of Japanese heritage.

In the 2006 election, she was re-elected in the riding of Durham with 47% of the vote in the riding, despite controversy over campaign funding by US copyright proponents.[8]

On February 6, 2006, Oda was sworn in as Heritage Minister in the cabinet of the newly elected Conservative government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. She is the first Japanese-Canadian cabinet minister in Canadian history.

Oda was appointed the Minister of International Cooperation on August 14, 2007. As Canada's Minister for International Cooperation, she was responsible for Canada's overseas development assistance through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Oda oversaw the Government's Aid Effectiveness Agenda, which committed to making Canada's international assistance more efficient, focused, and accountable. Oda was also responsible for Canada's contributions to the Muskoka Initiative, a global effort to reduce maternal and infant mortality and improve the health of mothers and children in the world's poorest countries.

Oda was re-elected by a significant margin in the 2008 federal election, and again in the 2011 federal election.

On July 3, 2012, Oda announced that she would resign as a cabinet member and MP effective July 31.[9] According to the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation, she is entitled to collect an MP's pension of $52,183 per year.[10]

Controversies and scandals

In November 2006, Oda planned on holding a fundraising dinner for broadcasting executives, just weeks before a major review of broadcasting rules. The event was cancelled, but a number of donations were still made.[11]

In 2006, Oda paid back $2,200 to taxpayers after the Liberals found that she had incurred nearly $5,500 in limousine rides at the 2006 Juno Awards in Halifax.[12] In 2008, she was accused of hiding over $17,000 of limousine expenses billed to taxpayers.[12]

In February 2011, Bev Oda admitted to directing one of her staff to add a handwritten annotation to an already signed Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) memo in 2009 that resulted in a funding recommendation for KAIROS being ignored.[13] The memo was altered by the addition of 'not' into the recommendation line of the document.[14] When asked about the matter, Oda had at first told Parliament that she did not know who had made the change.[13] Opposition MPs on the House Foreign Affairs committee requested that the Speaker rule on the possible contempt of parliament against Oda but Prime Minister Harper continued to support Oda.[15] On March 9, 2011, the Speaker of the House made a ruling on the issue of Oda's behaviour, stating that "on its face" Oda's statements had caused confusion, which still persisted. Oda replied in the House that she was ready to answer to the confusion, at a House of Commons special committee meeting to be held over three full days the following week.[16] Speaker Peter Milliken found on prima facie that the controversy warranted further investigation by a formal parliamentary committee; however, the committee was not able to reach a decision regarding Oda, as the parliamentary session was brought to an end following the non-confidence motion that triggered the 2011 federal election.[17][18] That election saw Oda retain her seat with 54% of the popular vote.[19] When Bev Oda resigned in 2012, the Quebec newspaper Le Devoir ran a front-page headline Bev Oda ne démissionne pas ("Bev Oda not resigning"), with the ne and pas "scratched out" as if by handwriting, in a reference to the scandal.[20][21]

On April 23, 2012, it was reported that during a 2011 conference on immunization of poor children Oda had refused to stay in the conference hotel (the Grange St. Paul) furnished by hosts.[22] She instead stayed at the Savoy Hotel at a cost of $665 per night for three nights, ordered orange juice at a cost of $16 and hired a limousine to transport her between her new hotel and the conference. She was also charged $250 for smoking in a non-smoking room.[23] The costs incurred were at public expense.[22] Only after widespread media reports of this misuse of public money emerged approximately ten months after the conference did Oda repay the difference in hotel costs but not the limousine costs incurred by her decision.[24] The total amount she paid back after she was exposed by the media was $1,353.81.[25] By April 26, it was announced that Oda had repaid the expenses incurred on the taxi rides as well.[26]

On April 24, 2012, Oda stood in the House of Commons, in response to a question from interim Liberal leader Bob Rae, and admitted she should never have charged Canadian taxpayers for her stay at the Savoy. She said, "The expenses are unacceptable, should never have been charged to taxpayers…I have repaid the costs associated with [the] changing of hotels and I unreservedly apologize."[27] Criticism of her spending habits continued, however. On July 3, 2012, Oda announced her intention to leave politics effective July 31, 2012, ahead of an anticipated cabinet shuffle;[1] Oda gave no reason for her departure.[28] Reportedly, her decision to resign was made after she was informed that she would be dropped from cabinet.[28] On July 4, 2012, she was replaced as Minister of International Cooperation by Julian Fantino.[2]

On March 6, 2013, Oda was awarded the "Lifetime Achievement Teddy" from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation for charging taxpayers on limos, orange juice, an air purifier for her government office so she could smoke indoors and her $52,183 annual pension.[29][30]


  1. Chase, Steven (July 3, 2012). "Stage set for cabinet shuffle after Bev Oda steps down". Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
  2. Canadian Press (July 4, 2012). "Julian Fantino to replace Bev Oda as international co-operation minister". Toronto Star. Retrieved July 4, 2012.
  3. Parliament of Canada: ODA, The Hon. Beverley J. (Bev), P.C., B.A.
  4. "National Association of Japanese Canadians". Archived from the original on March 10, 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
  5. Campbel Clark And Daniel Leblanc (February 22, 2011). "Bev Oda: A serious-minded minister who muddles the political message – The Globe and Mail". Archived from the original on February 24, 2011. Retrieved July 4, 2012.
  6. Conservative Party of Canada Website
  7. "Durham – Canada Votes". CBC. Archived from the original on March 22, 2009. Retrieved July 4, 2012.
  8. Michael Geist: The Sad Reality of Copyright Policy in Canada
  9. Meagan Fitzpatrick (July 3, 2012). "Bev Oda quitting as MP and cabinet minister". Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  10. Canadian Taxpayers' Federation: Oda Cashes in $701K Pension <"Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 10, 2013. Retrieved July 3, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)>
  11. Curry, Bill (May 4, 2007). "Oda faces heat over aborted fundraising event". Globe and Mail. Toronto. Archived from the original on May 7, 2007. Retrieved May 5, 2007.
  12. NDP says Conservative MP hid limo expenses, May 8th 2008, ctv news Archived May 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  13. Clark, Campbell (February 10, 2011). "Speaker rebukes Bev Oda over document in Kairos case". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
  14. "Amended CIDA document". Globe and Mail. Toronto. February 10, 2011. Retrieved February 14, 2011.
  15. Clark, Campbell (February 15, 2011). "Amid cries of contempt, Harper backs Bev Oda". Globe and Mail. Ottawa. Retrieved February 16, 2011.
  16. Harper shrugs off historic contempt rulings. Canoe News, March 10, 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
  17. Speaker hits Tories with two more contempt rulings Archived March 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. The Globe and Mail, March 9, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
  18. Tories slapped by 2 rulings. CBC News, March 9, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
  19. 2011 General Election Preliminary Results, Durham
  20. Buzzetti, Hélène; Vastel, Marie (July 4, 2012). "Bev Oda démissionne". Le Devoir. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  21. "Le Devoir s'amuse de la démission de Bev Oda". Huffington Post Québec. July 4, 2012. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  22. "Opposition heaps scorn on Bev Oda's 'five-star-plus' spending habits". Globe and Mail. Toronto. February 23, 2012. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
  23. The Canadian Press (September 8, 2012). "The Globe and Mail – Bev Oda charged taxpayers $250 (U.S.) for smoking penalty". Globe and Mail. Canada. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
  24. "Bev Oda repays taxpayers for $600-a-night swanky Savoy hotel stay (including $16 a glass orange juice)". Globe and Mail. Toronto. February 23, 2012. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
  25. "Oda pays taxpayers back for luxury hotel upgrade". April 23, 2012. Retrieved June 27, 2015.
  26. "Bev Oda coughs up cash for 'ad hoc' London limo rides". Globe and Mail. Toronto. April 27, 2012.
  27. "Bev Oda apologizes for swanky hotel stay". CBC News. April 24, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  28. Chase, Steven (July 3, 2012). "Insider prompting led Oda to step down ahead of cabinet shuffle: source". Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved July 4, 2012.
  29. "15TH ANNUAL "TEDDY" GOVERNMENT WASTE AWARDS WINNERS". March 6, 2013. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  30. Soupcoff, Marni (July 11, 2012). "Marni Soupcoff: Revelation that Bev Oda expensed an air purifier (to mask office smoking) a fitting send-off". National Post. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
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