Canadian Sikh woman MP in more trouble

May 8th, 2009 - 10:19 am ICT by IANS  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, May 8 (IANS)Even as embattled Indian-origin Sikh woman MP Ruby Dhalla Thursday demanded a parliamentary probe into charges by two nannies that they were mistreated and underpaid at her home, another caretaker complained she too was underpaid by the family.

A former Miss India-Canada, 35-year-old Dhalla has been the MP for the opposition Liberal Party from the Brampton-Springdale constituency on the outskirt of Toronto since 2004.

Two Filipino nannies have publicly alleged that they were mistreated and underpaid by Dhalla’s family.

They say their passports were taken away and they were forced to do non-nanny chores like washing family cars and cleaning shoes. It has also come out that they were hired illegally as Dhalla had not sought permission from immigration authorities.

But there was more trouble Thursday for the embattled MP as one more foreign worker said she too was mistreated when she was hired as a housekeeper by the Dhalla family.

Alleging hard working conditions, she said she was forced to work long hours and paid under the table.

The woman told the local Toronto Star that Dhalla’s mother, Tavinder, drove her to wash all the floors on her hands and knees, forcing her to quit within days.

Dhalla, who has already quit her job as ‘critic’ (shadow minister) for the opposition Liberal Party and virtually gone into hiding, Thursday asked the parliamentary ethics panel to investigate the allegations by the nannies.

In a statement, the MP said: “I have been saddened and troubled by the allegations made against my family and me this week. I take these allegations very seriously and believe that a transparent, third-party evaluation of the facts is required to clear my name. I have requested the Ethics Commissioner to commence a review to ensure that this matter is resolved in a fair and objective manner.”

However, the ruling Conservative Party slammed her for seeking an inquiry by the Ethics Commissioner.

“This is a Liberal (her party) cover-up. It is not the Ethics Commissioner’s job to enforce (provincial) labour laws and minimum wage laws, immigration laws or criminal laws,” said a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

Dhalla has been asked by the parliamentary immigration committee to respond to the charges by the nannies.

The MP may also be asked to appear before the panel next week. The nanny troubles could end the promising career of a woman who was being touted to become the first South Asian female cabinet minister in a future Liberal Party government.

A trained chiropractic practitioner, Dhalla was born into an immigrant Sikh family in Winnipeg in 1974.

Ottawa-based Hill Times, which is exclusively devoted to covering Canadian national politics, in its fun poll of the nation’s parliamentary staff last year rated Dhalla as the second-sexiest female MP in Canada.

Earlier, Maxim magazine had called her the world’s “third hottest” female politician.

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