Indian Canadian MP ‘cleared’ of nanny abuse charges (Lead) (With Image)

June 17th, 2009 - 3:52 pm ICT by IANS  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, June 17 (IANS) A Canadian parliamentary body has cleared Indian origin MP Ruby Dhalla of charges of exploiting two Filipino nannies at her home and taking away their passports. But the high-profile politician is not yet off the hook as the committee has also asked “authorised bodies” to probe the allegations.

A rising star in Canadian politics, 35-year-old Dhalla suddenly faced a political storm last month when Magdalene Gordo and Richelyn Tongson, who were hired by Dhalla in early 2008 to take care of her mother, publicly alleged they were underpaid and overworked.

The nannies also alleged that their passports were taken away and they were forced to do non-nanny jobs like cleaning shoes and washing cars.

A parliamentary committee, which heard Dhalla and the nannies, last week cleared her personally but recommended that “authorised bodies investigate the allegations of the former live-in caregivers in the Dhalla residence and take measures as appropriate”.

Her supporters alleged that it was a “political conspiracy at the top level” to wrest her seat by destroying her reputation through a smear campaign.

Maintaining her innocence, Dhalla told IANS that she could not understand how “the caregivers came forward with false, unsubstantiated and baseless allegations almost 15 months after their employment”.

“Anyone entering my home has always been treated with compassion, care and respect… that is why these allegations have gone against the grain of every value my mother has raised me and my brother with,” she added.

Being struggling immigrants themselves once, she said her family could not even think of exploiting anyone.

Insisting that she was “not the employer” of the nannies, she said the two caregivers worked at her family home just for a short time.

“It is my understanding (that) one caregiver worked for 11 days and another for three months,” Dhalla said.

Asked whether a particular minister was behind the so-called smear campaign against her, the three-time MP from the Toronto suburb of Brampton-Springdale said: “That is an answer that only the people responsible can give. However, I do know for a fact that smearing and attacking people is not my style of politics.

“As one of the youngest female members of parliament in Canada, I feel a tremendous responsibility to engage the younger generation to do politics differently.”

Asked whether she took away their passports as alleged by one of the nannies, Dhalla said: “No. Never. My brother and I are both born in Canada and my mom is also a Canadian citizen. We have no need for anyone’s passport.

“One of the caregivers making that allegation changed her testimony at the committee and stated she had never given me the passports. It is all very strange. I just hope that my name has not been used by the caregivers to gain permanent residency in Canada.”

A former Miss India-Canada runner-up, Dhalla has been rated as the “third hottest” woman politicians in the world by Maxim magazine.

She has been touted as a minister in any future government by her Liberal Party.

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

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