Canada’s Sikh woman MP faces accuser nannies

May 13th, 2009 - 9:36 am ICT by IANS  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, May 13 (IANS) It was Indian-Canadian MP Ruby Dhalla versus her two accuser nannies before a parliamentary committee Tuesday.

Dhalla’s two former nannies, who have alleged exploitation at the Indian-origin MP’s home in 2008, Tuesday said they were hired by Dhalla, not by her brother Neil, as claimed by the MP last week.

The nannies - Magdelene Gordo and Richelyn Tongson - reiterated that they were underpaid and forced to work long hours and do non-nanny chores.

However, the 35-year-old Sikh woman MP, told the panel:”I did not hire them. I have not interviewed them. I have not employed them and I have not sponsored them.”

She said: “I, Ruby Dhalla, did not employ Magdelene Gordo or Richelyn Tongson. I did not sponsor Ms Gordo or Ms Tongson. I did not pay the salaries of Ms Gordo and Ms Tongson.”

Dhalla said: ” I was not the person Ms Gordo and Ms Tongson provided care to. I had no involvement from an immigration or employment perspective.”

She said the “innuendo and allegations” are “false and unsubstantiated because politics has been in large supply but fairness has been hard to find.”

Dhalla also said she was hardly at home when the nannies worked briefly at her home in February 2008.

But Magdalene Gordo said Dhalla used to be home from Friday till Monday. She said they were hired by Dhalla, not her brother Neil Dhalla.

“Neil Dhalla was never introduced to me as my employer. Neil Dhalla never had a direct transaction with me,” said Gordo.

“She (Dhalla) was the one who interviewed me and she was the one who hired me and she was the one who supervised me,” she said. Gordo said Dhalla pressured her to hand over her passport to the MP, but she refused.

But Tongson, who gave her passport, birth certificate and her marriage certificate to Dhalla, said the MP didn’t give them back despite repeated pleas.

“I need all my documents so that somebody will sponsor me. I cannot go back home (to the Philippines) because I have four kids to support,” she said sobbing.

“I don’t want to go back home because they will live in poverty. I don’t want to see them starving.”

Dhalla said, “I, like many others, are trying to wonder why these caregivers have come forward 15 months later, after leaving our home on what I thought was on good terms.

“I don’t know what their motive is, but I do want to tell all of you today that I have nothing to hide and I have done nothing wrong.” Dhalla, who in 2004 became the first Sikh woman MP in Canada, has represented the Brampton-Springdale constituency on the outskirts of Toronto since then.

A chiropractor practitioner by profession, she is also a former Miss India-Canada.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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