Canada's aid minister quits after spending scandal

Tue Jul 3, 2012 6:29pm EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's foreign aid minister is resigning from politics after coming under fire for extravagant spending, including a $16 dollar glass of orange juice in a luxury London hotel.

Bev Oda, the minister for international cooperation, said in a statement on Tuesday that she advised Prime Minister Stephen Harper two weeks ago that she will step down as a member of Parliament on July 31.

She gave no reason for her departure.

"I am grateful for the support of my staff and colleagues in the House of Commons and Senate. I wish to express my appreciation to the prime minister and his cabinet for their outstanding leadership," she said in a statement.

Harper, who was widely expected to demote Oda in his next cabinet shuffle, praised her work on humanitarian aid to various countries stricken by conflict or natural disasters.

"Through Bev's leadership, Canada has also met, ahead of schedule, its commitment to double aid to Africa. This is a record of which to be proud," Harper said in a statement.

Oda, first elected to Parliament in 2004, came under attack from the opposition after it emerged that she had upgraded from a five-star hotel to an even pricier one while attending a conference in London last year. Her travel expenses also included a $3,000 limousine charge, but what seemed to resonate most with the public was a $16 orange juice at taxpayers' expense.

Under pressure, Oda paid the extra expenses out of her own pocket.

(Reporting By Louise Egan; Editing by Peter Galloway)

Canada's International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa April 30, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Wattie