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Doctored memo means minister can't be trusted, Liberals charge

International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda explains her decision not to fund Kairos, a church-backed aid organization, during Question Period in the House of Commons on Feb. 14, 2011.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Bev Oda has no credibility as a minister anymore, the Liberals say as they gear up a call for her resignation.

"It's clear to me that Ms. Oda's word can no longer be trusted by Parliament," foreign affairs critic Bob Rae said at a news conference on Tuesday.

The International Co-operation Minister is under fire for inserting the word "not" into her department's 2009 recommendation that church-backed development charity, Kairos, be given $7-million in funding over four years - even though top officials had already signed it.

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The minister had previously indicated the controversial decision to cut off Kairos was not politically motivated, but was instead a routine decision analyzed by her officials at the Canadian International Development Agency.

When new documents emerged in December, MPs asked her who inserted the "not" and Ms. Oda said she didn't know. But the minister admitted in the House of Commons on Monday she had given instructions that the "not" be inserted, saying it was intended to reflect her decision against the funding.

Mr. Rae argued she wasn't acting alone in Stephen Harper's famously top-down government. "She would not have done what she did without instructions from the Prime Minister's Office," the Liberal MP said.

The opposition is clearly gearing up to start demanding Ms. Oda step down. While Mr. Rae did not do so explicitly, he noted Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff would have more to say on the subject later Tuesday.

Mr. Rae also said he hopes MPs on the Commons foreign affairs committee will report on the matter - recommending that Ms. Oda be pursued for contempt of Parliament - on Wednesday.

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Chief political writer

Campbell Clark has been a political writer in The Globe and Mail’s Ottawa bureau since 2000. Before that he worked for The Montreal Gazette and the National Post. He writes about Canadian politics and foreign policy. More

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