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Friday
Feb182011

The Bev Oda Saga Part 1

The Bev Oda saga drags on made all the worse by the Prime Minister’s stubbornness to keep her in place. Unfortunately in the process a minister’s reputation will be destroyed and the government’s reputation tarnished. The one saving grace for the Conservatives is that the issue is just confusing enough that the general public won’t bother to read much further than the headlines.

To begin with Oda had every right to refuse the grant. As the minister is responsible for the spending of these funds, it is up to her to decide how they are spent. Contrary to some of what I have heard, department officials don’t make grant decisions, they make recommendations to the minister. Only the minister can say yes or no.

Usually there are discussions between the minister, the staff and the department as to which grants will go forward and for how much. Eventually a letter is prepared for the minister’s signature and the minister signs off. Somewhere in the department there will be a paper trail about those discussions with the minister’s office and it will be clear that the minister agreed to the funding request.

Unfortunately all sorts of groups get used to receiving their government grant each year and build it into their yearly budget. Living off the government becomes a way of life for them. When government priorities change or a new minister with a different agenda arrives on the scene the groups are outraged when they don’t get their expected funding. Backed by media and opposition MP hype they try to get their funding back. The minister will have to stand in the House and defend their decision and that is the way it should be. Yet in reality groups who receive funding support from the government should have been raising funds to match what they got from the government, they should not be dependent on it. It is not up to taxpayers to fund their activities indefinitely.

As for how the letter was signed it gets more interesting. Did Oda sign it in person or was it auto-penned? The result is the same, Oda’s signature is there and it’s official. If the minister instructed someone to insert the “not” then she was probably under pressure to do so as a last minute attempt to stop the funding from going forward. Oda has been a minister long enough to know that simply refusing to sign the letter stops the funding process. There was no reason to insert the not unless it was already signed. Did the minister simply phone her office and ask that it be inserted? In that case she would not know who did it and her answer would be correct.

Having a “not” inserted shows some last minute attempt to stop the funding. That it was done indicates a lack of understanding of the process, the legality of doing so and quite possibly the inexperience of staff if they did not caution the minister that this should not be done.

No matter how it happened, in the end the minister is responsible for what took place and the minister pays the price if a mistake was made.

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Reader Comments (4)

Too much of this discussion revolves around whether Ms Oda had the right to deny funding. Of course she did and no one is debating that. The issue is whether see lie or deliberately deceived the House, and it would appear that she did. In a perverse way this reminds me of the Clinton/Lewinski affair. Clinton was well within his rights to get a b.j. in the Oval office, but his crime was lying about it ("I did not have sexual relations with that woman"). In much the same way the government is tying itself in knots trying to justify Ms. Oda's statements, Clinton tried to rationalize his lie by saying that he didn't think that oral sex was "sexual relations" in much the same way as Ms. Oda says she was "misunderstood" As always the coverup is worse than the act.

February 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPlant Guy

Heres what it looks like to me. Oda told her staff to prepare a document rejecting the funding. They prepared one that was more to their liking while the boss was away and anticipated whe would just have it signed with electric pen in absentia.

They had it done up neat as a pin with their signatures on it and all it required was the Ministers signature

Unfortunately for them, Ms Oda read a copy of the document, found that it was precisely opposite of what she requested, and advised that the word "not" be inserted into the language to reflect the Ministers - and as such the Government- wishes.

So Oda signed the document as she requested it. Perhaps a bit of a slap back to the rogue elements who tried to sneak a fast one by her.

The rest of the case is just semantics that requires interpretations of what Oda might have meant in certain responses. The questions asked were not specific, so it is unfair to imply that the questions asked of Oda were specific.

Andrew Coynes articles are particularly hilarious in the way he has to twist events into a pretzel to make them fit his predetermined narrative.

February 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterward

A lie is a lie, is a lie, no matter how one tries to slice and dice it.

February 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGUARDSMAN

So much energy wasted in trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill. The jury (facts) are not in as whether she lied or told the truth, so let us honour the tradition of innocent until proved guilty. I serious doubt that she lied or misled, but as stated we do not know all the facts. To suggest that she should automatically be turfed due to the hysterical claims of the Liberals (no track record of honesty here), is ridiculous. Time to move on to important national issues and leave the gossipmongers to rage on.

February 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlain

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