Canadian heritage minister Bev Oda is being accused of a "conflict of interest" for raising C$15,000 ($13,267) at a fundraiser organized by three top Canadian broadcasting industry leaders in May 2005

Canadian heritage minister Bev Oda is being accused of a "conflict of interest" for raising C$15,000 ($13,267) at a fundraiser organized by three top Canadian broadcasting industry leaders in May 2005.

Last week, Oda was also forced to cancel an appearance at a C$250 ($221) per-person fundraiser in Toronto on Nov. 15 after NDP Heritage critic Charlie Angus charged that the event was being organized by Charlotte Bell, VP of regulatory affairs at CanWest Global Communications Corp. After Oda cancelled the event, her office indicated that the minister had not been not aware that Bell was a registered lobbyist.

At issue now is a fundraiser organized by John Cassady, pres./CEO of Corus Entertainment; Phil Lind, vice-chairman at Rogers Communications Inc.; and Glen O' Farrell, president/CEO of the Canadian Assn. of Broadcasters. The C$250 per-person fundraiser took place on May 24, 2005 in Toronto, the head office of Corus Entertainment. The fundraiser was for Oda's Durham, Ont., riding association.

"When you're the key opposition critic who might become the next minister, and they have your fundraiser in the office of one such industry, that is a conflict," says Angus.

Chisolm Pothier, director of communications to Oda, disputes the accusation of a conflict of interest, saying that at the time nobody knew whether Oda would become a cabinet minister in the Stephen Harper government.

"She could have ended up being a backbench member of parliament, she could have ended up being a defeated Conservative candidate," he says.

The Conservative government's pending Federal Accountability Act legislation, as proposed by the government, would ban corporate contributions outright and limit individual contributions from the public to C$1,000 ($884) to a riding association and C$1,000 to a political party annually. The bill passed the Senate last week with amendments and will now receive further reworking again in the House of Commons.

Last year, former Liberal member of parliament Samite Bulte found herself at the center of a similar controversy during the 2006 election campaign, when it was revealed that key figures in the copyright and communications industries organized a C$250-per-plate fundraiser for Bulte just prior the election.

Bulte was widely seen as a candidate for heritage minister in a potential Liberal government under Paul Martin.