Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ruby Dhalla’s spirited defence: was it believable?

To begin with, I don’t believe that everyone who entered Ruby Dhalla’s household was treated with love—she made that claim several times in the past week or so, but it is not at all believable. Surely, at least, a few people must have entered the house who were merely likable, but not quite lovable.

I doubt very much that the caregivers’ live-in accommodations were quite the lavish basement suite Ms. Dhalla reported them to be. Dhalla described a loving home in which caregivers are provided with a 1,500-square-foot basement suite with a 60-inch flat screen TV and private kitchen.

I do believe that Ms. Dhalla had more involvement with the caregivers than she lets on. She went to great pains to avoid saying that she even lived in the house, preferring to claim she “stayed” there sometimes. After being asked repeatedly whether she lived there, she finally acknowledged that she did so when not in Ottawa.

I do not believe that Ruby Dhalla’s mother has any real “need” for a caregiver. She reportedly travels without one. She was able to leave her house unassisted to meet one of the caregivers and deliver a cash payment. And, apparently, if one believes Ms. Dhalla, mother Dhalla often cooked meals for the caregiver. Hardly a picture of an infirm person needing a full-time caregiver.

The mere fact that there were three nannies in so short a period suggest that Dhalla’s household was not the warm, loving place she paints it.

Even Don Martin of the National Post—a Liberal party apologist of the first order—seems hard pressed to accept Ms. Dhalla’s account when he writes:

There’s tough taskmaster Ruby Dhalla, the Liberal MP who allegedly hired nanny caregivers for low wages, forced them to endure long days of slavish cleaning, demanded their passports and ultimately berated them when they quit.

Then there’s the compassionate, victim-advocate Ruby Dhalla who rarely encountered the nannies, welcoming them into a warm, loving household where they lived free in a lavish basement suite featuring a big flat-screen television, where they were often fed home-cooked meals.

There’s evidence the former version has elements of exaggeration, if not fabrication.

But the latter version sounds a tad too Pollyanna to embrace as gospel given the apparent trauma these short-term nannies articulated while videolinked to a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.

While the nannies’ allegations may stretched the truth—some inconsistencies have already emerged—the rosy picture painted by Dhalla is no more believable. The truth is likely to be some combination of both sides of this story.

Yesterday’s testimony did nothing to dispel the feeling I have that Ruby Dhalla and her family probably took advantage of their domestic servants and probably mistreated them. And I will not be surprised if a future investigation determines that the Dhalla family scammed the federal Live-in Caregiver program for foreign workers—or at the very least, gamed the system for all its worth.

I seriously doubt history will deal kindly with Ruby Dhalla.

For more on this story, see Joanne’s post at the Blue Like You blog.


© 2009 Russell G. Campbell

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