OTTAWA—International Development Minister Bev Oda said she is sorry for making taxpayers foot the bill when she upgraded from a five-star hotel to an even fancier one while attending a conference in London, England last year.
“I unreservedly apologize,” Oda told her fellow MPs during question period in the House of Commons on Tuesday, calling the expenses unacceptable.
On Monday, Oda reimbursed the federal government the extra money she claimed in expenses when she cancelled her reservation at a posh hotel and switched to one favoured by royalty.
The Canadian Press reported Monday that Oda turned her nose up at her original $287-a-night reservation last June at the posh Grange St. Paul’s Hotel, which was hosting a donors conference on international immunization that she and notables such as Microsoft chairman Bill Gates were attending.
Oda had her staff rebook her into the Savoy, an even more luxurious hotel ($665 a night) overlooking the Thames that has hosted such stars as Frank Sinatra, Claude Monet and Charlie Chaplin.
The new bill came out to $1,995 for three nights plus an additional $287 because the government lost its one-night deposit at the hotel she rejected.
Oda reimbursed taxpayers the difference in hotel prices, the cancellation fee and a $16 glass of orange juice she ordered at the Savoy after the story broke Monday morning.
Oda has not explained the switch in hotels.
She has also not explained why she hired a chauffeur to drive her in a luxury car between the two hotels — two kilometers away — and to other spots in the city for a cost of $2,850 over three days.
She did not reimburse that expense and did not answer questions about it in the Commons after delivering her apology on Tuesday.
Oda has been in trouble for lavish spending before, sparking criticism from the opposition for charging taxpayers with thousands of dollars in limousine rides in 2006 and 2007.
The first time, she expensed $5,475 in limousine bills to be driven to and from the Juno Awards ceremony in Halifax, later reimbursing the taxpayer $2,200 of the bill after the spending was questioned in the Commons.
In 2007, Oda claimed $1,200 for a limousine trip that brought her to both a government event and a Conservative Party of Canada event.