Indian-origin Canadian MP, nannies set to testify

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Ottawa/Toronto, May 12 (ANI): Indian-origin embattled Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla and the three Filipina caregivers who say they were mistreated while employed by her family are set to testify before federal politicians today.

According to the Globe and mail newspaper, Dhalla's appearance before the Commons immigration committee will mark just the second time she has appeared in public since the story that has thrown her political career into jeopardy appeared in a Toronto newspaper last week.

Her first and only previous emergence from seclusion took place at a news conference last Friday at which she told reporters the allegations are part of a complex conspiracy to discredit her.

The caregivers who worked at her family home in Mississauga, west of Toronto, will appear by video camera, an arrangement that Dhalla's lawyer, Howard Levitt, said would make it difficult to separate truth from fiction.

"It makes the process into a sham when [the caregivers] are not able to be directly cross-examined in the same room, but are simply shown on a screen in a different city with their supporters around them, potentially being shown off camera whatever cheat notes their advocates wish to display," Levitt said on Monday.

The MP and her lawyer are writing off the allegations of nanny abuse surrounding her as a political conspiracy, but the country's Immigration Minister doesn't buy it.

The testimony of the women - Magdalene Gordo, Richelyn Tongson, and Lyle Alvarez - could help shed light on the controversy that threatens to deflate the popularity of the federal Liberals, who had topped the other political parties in recent polls.

The women, who were hired under the federal Live-in Caregiver Program for foreign workers to look after Dhalla's mother, allege they were paid 250 dollars a week for 16-hour days of household chores - from shining shoes to shovelling snow - and cleaning the family's chiropractic clinics.

Levitt asked Monday if it were possible that the caregivers made their allegations against the Dhallas as part of a bid to stay in Canada.

The law requires people who come to this country as caregivers to spend two of the first three years working in that capacity before they can apply for permanent residence. (ANI)

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