View From the Hill by Keith Beardsley – Odagate Part 1 – February 18, 2011

Ottawa ON – 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.

Keith Beardsley is a senior strategist for True North Public Affairs in Ottawa, as well as a blogger and political analyst. He can often be found running or cycling on his favorite bike trails.

Framed Photography Cornwall Free News Schnitzels


  1. Bev Oda sez…. “Pretzels are knot bread”

  2. Bev Oda sez….anything Harper tells her to say.

  3. Harper’s way: Railroad Parliament and Canadians, if necessary with fear, forgery and lies.

    Give Oda a break. Would she behave differently under a prime minister with principles?

  4. Mr. Beardsley summarizes the “not” insertion was a naive Conservative mistake. Perhaps it is Beardsley who is naive. This is a standard CIDA document the Conservatives have been signing off on for 5 years now.
    Harper’s narrow ideology and blind embrace of Israel has him now playing favourites with poverty aid groups. A practice not exercised in federal Canada’s past. Hence the blocking of Kairos, an accomplished aid giver.
    The Kairos document was intentionally signed off on without protocol, without initials or a signature identifying the refusal of approved funding.
    This is yet another arrogant gesture of Harper’s disrespect for Parliamentary diplomacy.
    The shutting down of Parliament whenever things don’t go his way. The long form census tampering, linked to the tough-on-crime bill, linked to the G20 summit police brutality.
    The cold standoff with the UAE over additional Canadian flights. Which had the Canadian Forces kicked out of rent-free Camp Mirage. One of Harper’s platforms is loyalty to the CF. Yet Canadian soldiers are out wandering the desert, dragging their belongings in search of a new camp. With only months left to their contract.
    Harper has let our Freedom of Information service deteriorate to one of the poorest in the First World.
    The “not”, just another innocent Conservative error ? Wake up, Mr. Beardsley.

  5. Well said, Ken Smith. And wake up, fellow Canadians.

  6. I have heard of no one saying a minister should not make decisions. What we are saying, as moral beings, telling lies is unacceptable.

  7. I truly do feel sorry for any cabinet minister or MP in the Con party, at least the ones who have the desire to do what’s right for Canada. Every speech, opinion, or answer to a question has to be written or approved by the PMO. Under the Harper regime, our elected representatives represent the party, not the electorate.
    I’m still convinced that Bev Oda was just doing what Harper told her to do. She works for him.

  8. Don’t feel sorry, Furtz. Each one has the option of saying “No, this is unacceptable” and getting out. Trouble is the lure of power and a fat pension. Also, there’s the question of what hold Harper has got on each one, to make them feel compromised in some way. That’s how dictators typically ensure loyalty.

  9. The only thing obvious to me in this story is that people who are full of vitriol that their political party has fallen from the populace favour will jump and twist on every piece of protocol to smear the current government. The Minister had the authority to deny the grant and did it. End of story for me. In the big scheme of things there isn’t much more story than that, but have fun anyway. I know you will.

  10. Yes, the minister has the authority to deny the grant but the way she did it was contemptuous of both legal and parliamentary process and for that she has to pay. If The PMO’s office ordered her to do it then the government should be held in contempt of parliament……..again.

    If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, look likes a duck, no matter how much conservative spin you put on it, it’s still a duck.

  11. Holding the current government to account on a fact-based issue that is screamingly obvious…you call that smearing? You must be joking.

    You want to talk about smearing? Look no further than the track record of members of the current government.

    We (still) live in a democracy, Mr. Wood, not under a dictatorship.

  12. What about their CONstant attack ad’s on TV Mr. Wood? What about attempting to change laws to make it possible that lies get posted as news? so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone of course.. Why would any political party try to call for a change like that Mr. Wood? You speaking is the classic case of the teapot calling the kettle black.. only in this situation, even if the minister had the right to make a decision, again to outline it for you, its the way the decision was made.. And to top it all off, now they are trying to pull yet another fast one on us.. Typical is what I come to expect after reading this.. Harper will say anything at anytime, and it’s idiots that fall for it.. Don’t fall in that same category Mr. Wood.. Don’t let the smoke and mirrors fool you..

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