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Cabinet minister apologizes for lavish London stay

Mark Dunn, Senior National Reporter

OTTAWA - A cabinet minister with a penchant for the lifestyle of the rich and famous stood up in the Commons on Tuesday to apologize for a lavish trip on the public dime to England.

International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda conceded she went overboard last year attending a global immunization conference in London.

Oda trended on social media Monday after reports surfaced she booked a room at the luxurious Savoy Hotel for three nights rather than stay at a five-star hotel hosting the conference. The Savoy cost more than twice as much as the $287 the Grange St. Paul's Hotel charged per night.

A luxury car and driver cost nearly another $1,000 per day and an orange juice racked up a $16 tab.

"The expenses are unacceptable, should never have been charged to taxpayers," Oda said in response to a question from interim Liberal leader Bob Rae.

"I have repaid the costs associated with the changing of hotels and I unreservedly apologize."

Rae noted that while Oda - who is responsible for helping the world's poorest - repaid taxpayers for the hotel and juice Monday after she was caught red-handed, she hasn't paid for the car and driver.

He also said it is unacceptable for such abuse of the public purse at a time millions are being cut from budgets to help the most destitute people on the planet.

It's not the first time Oda has been in hot water. She had to reimburse the treasury in 2006 after ringing up almost $5,500 in limousine rides while attending the Juno Awards.

Twitter: @MarkDunnSun