Embattled Sikh woman defends herself in Canada’s nannygate

May 9th, 2009 - 9:24 am ICT by IANS  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, May 9 (IANS) A lawyer for embattled Indian Canadian MP Ruby Dhalla, who has been accused of exploitation by her three nannies, Friday called the charges “an organised” conspiracy to destroy her political career.

In their public allegations - which has now come to be known as Canada’s nannygate - the three Filipino nannies have said they were forced to work for long hours and underpaid at Dhalla’s home. They have said that their passports were taken away and they were asked to do non-nanny jobs like washing cars, cleaning shoes and shoveling snow.

At a news conference at her office Friday, 35-year-old Dhalla, who represents the Indian-dominated constituency of Brampton-Springdale on the outskirts of Toronto, said she had been “shocked” and “devastated” by the allegations.

Accompanied by her lawyer, Canada’s first Sikh woman MP said:”The last week has been a difficult and trying time for both myself and my family. Anyone that has ever entered our home has been treated with love, with care, with compassion and respect.”

Pleading for public patience, she said: “I am requesting to everyone that is watching today, to all of the public and to all Canadians and also to the media to please hold judgment and give my family the privacy as we go through this due process as the facts and the truth come to light.”

Since the allegations involve the larger question of exploitation of foreign workers, Dhalla said she is the daughter of “a loving, caring single-mother, an immigrant herself.”

She said, “I have seen first-hand the challenges and understand the challenges immigrants and women face in Canada and around the world. I, myself, have dedicated a great part of my own personal life to working on these issues.”

After Dhalla finished reading her statement, her lawyer Howard Levitt said the allegations were “a purposeful attempt” to destroy his client’s credibility and political career.

Calling it an “organized” conspiracy by the nannies, he said Dhalla’s brother Neil was their employer, not the MP.

Describing Dhalla as ” the victim,” he said he had enough evidence to refute the allegations.

The lawyer said he would seek to make the three nannies testify under oath before a parliamentary committee.

Dhalla has sought a probe by the parliamentary ethics commission. She will also appear before a parliament on immigration to answer charges of illegally hiring the three foreign workers.

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