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International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Feb. 17, 2011. (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)
International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Feb. 17, 2011. (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)

Bev Oda at last takes a question in the House - on Haiti Add to ...

The minister speaks. But Bev Oda spoke about Haiti and not about Kairos, the topic on which the opposition wanted her to speak.

The Minister of International Co-operation - wearing big dark glasses as a result of a detached retina - received a standing ovation from her Tory colleagues for her answer in Question Period on Thursday. The scene across the chamber was much different: disdain for not giving an explanation for reversing a decision to fund the faith-based aid group.

"The Minister of International Co-operation fails to stand up in the House and answer to the Canadian people yet she continues to arrive on the Hill in her limo and accept all the parliamentary perks, cars, drivers, staff, a hotline to the PMO," Liberal MP Wayne Easter charged. "This is the direct opposite of ministerial accountability."

It was his colleague Yasmin Ratansi, meanwhile, who enticed Ms. Oda from her seat with this question:

"There have been reports of severe delays in aid support from Canada actually reaching earthquake victims in Haiti. Could the Minister of International Co-operation update the House on the progress of the $250 of matching funds the government has committed?"

Ms. Oda answered - the first time she's up on her feet in the House in days since coming under fire over allegations she misled her colleagues. She shut up, however, when Ms. Ratansi followed up with Kairos question.

"Did the minister originally sign the document that approved the funding for Kairos before later rescinding it? Who ordered her to make the change?

Government House Leader John Baird answered for her.

Michael Ignatieff's Liberals launched an on-line petition earlier Thursday calling for Ms. Oda's resignation. By late afternoon they reported nearly 7,000 signatures.

Carolyn Bennett, the Liberal democratic renewal critic, wrote a letter accompanying the petition: "International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda ordered a ministerial document to be falsified and then misled Canadians about it. Can you imagine if you did something like that at your job? You'd be let go in a second."

Those who want to end "the culture of secrecy and deceit in Ottawa," the Toronto MP says, should sign up.

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