As calls for Bev Oda, the embattled minister of international co-operation, to step down continued this week, some in her own riding have expressed a lack of confidence.
One of those voices belongs to Grant Humes, an executive member of the Durham Federal Liberal Association.
“I’ve been talking on the phone a fair bit to people in the last couple of days in regard to this,” Humes said. “Primarily, my conversations have been with Liberals, but even without Liberals … when your representative shows up on TV on a daily basis and ends up on the front page of the paper and in the editorial cartoons, it creates awareness for people (where) it hasn’t been there before.”
Documents released in late 2009 showed that the Canadian International Development Agency recommended renewed federal funding for KAIROS, a religious organization. Its mission statement says that the group, “unites Canadian churches and religious organizations in a faithful ecumenical response to the call to ‘do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.'”
At some point after the filing of ministry papers, a handwritten word “not” appeared on them. At first, Oda claimed to not know who wrote the word. Subsequently, she indicated that she, in fact, ordered its addition. Humes said that these actions carry with them an erosion of integrity.
“To have a minister lie to Parliament and lie to MPs, I mean, we have a total lack of credibility here,” Humes said. “And the fact that she’s actually being defended by the prime minister is really indicative of a bigger problem of the current government. ”
Humes said that Oda should feel compelled to own up to all personal responsibility in the matter and resign.
In contrast, last week, a national Ipsos-Reid popularity poll found that the Harper Conservatives are sitting at 39 per cent – sufficient to form a majority government in a federal election.
“My sense is that an election will be called over the budget, which comes down in March,” Humes said. “My sense is that (the Conservatives) would be thinking that (the Oda controversy) would blow over prior to that and, if it does blow over, from a national perspective it’s not going to have that much of an impact.”
In Oda’s own riding of Durham, however, Humes said the situation could have negative longevity for the minister.
“There is an undercurrent of feeling … that the riding is not well represented,” Humes said. “We have a representative here who is not really in the riding, doesn’t operate on a local level and, even though she’s been supported very strongly in the last two elections, I’m starting to think that maybe the people who supported her, if a viable candidate came along, (the voters) would look elsewhere.”