Who will now head the Canadian International Development Agency?
Last month, talks were rife that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be reshuffling his Cabinet. One Cabinet member that would have been replaced was Minister for International Cooperation Beverly Oda. Harper’s development minister just spared him that task.
Oda, who is also Member of Parliament for Durham, advised Harper two weeks ago of her decision to leave her post and seat July 31.
Someone close to the minister told The Star the resignation signals Oda’s “readiness for retirement,” having served as CIDA chief since 2007. But others argue the move was a result of recent scandals concerning Oda’s spending habits. Among them: Staying in a lavish hotel in London and ordering a $16 glass of orange juice using taxpayers’ money.
Harper thanked Oda for her “hard work,” “dedication” and “many accomplishments in the ministry.” Canada has “championed” efforts to respond to various humanitarian crises and met its commitment to double aid to Africa “ahead of schedule” under Oda, among others, Harper said in a statement Tuesday (July 3).
Oda, meanwhile, expressed her gratitude to her staff and colleagues, and “appreciation” to Harper and his Cabinet. She has witnessed the people’s hardships and the “great compassion of Canadians for those in need” as development minister, according to a July 3 statement.
While Harper has not said who will replace Oda, media reports point to Chris Alexander as the likely successor. Alexander currently serves as parliamentary secretary to the minister of defense. He worked for the Canadian embassy in Russia and was Canada’s first resident ambassador to Kabul, Afghanistan.
Whoever replaces Oda will have to face great challenges. The agency is feared to be losing its place in the international development community, and several nongovernmental organizations and transparency advocates have accused Canada of lagging in aid transparency. Further, an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development review of the country’s development cooperation in June says Canada’s aid lacks a “clear, top-level statement that sets out its vision for development co-operation.”
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