Well, in addition to the questions that were raised in my mind about this whole affair, (see my previous post on this) there were some interesting things stood out for me during the meeting.
The testimony given by the caregivers was compelling and did give you pause to consider the plight that some of these individuals endure. I have no idea what the numbers are...those who face hardship versus those who settle into a new and happy life, but certainly if some are being taken advantage of and/or abused, I look forward to the committee report addressing the issues.
Did their testimony actually apply to their experience at the Dhalla household? It's impossible to know at this point really, except to say that Ruby Dhalla denies it and seems to have documentation to refute many of the claims. Compound that with the language used by the caregivers...mental torture, physically stressed, treated as slaves... But none of this was reported until now? 15 months after the fact?
One of the caregivers, Ms Tongson, broke down and repeated over and over again, that she didn't want to go home. That struck me as being the real issue, her real issue. That doesn't diminish it. To the contrary it demonstrates the precarious position that some of these women are in, or perceive themselves to be in.
Both caregivers obviously came prepared to tell their stories and as we all know, committees simply aren't designed for lengthy testimony. I felt for them, especially given that the chairman was David Tilson who couldn't adopt a compassionate tone if his life depended on it. He was forced to cut them off and the complication of having this testimony via teleconference, only exacerbated matters. Mic's cutting out when more than one person spoke, etc.
No doubt the stress of testifying, coupled with these circumstances, had to have played a part in Tongson breaking down. Her fear of being sent home told me that was her primary reason for speaking out. Were her claims about the Dhalla's true or was there something else at work? Additionally, it came out today that she apparently impersonated Ruby Dhalla to the HRDC. That is to be substantiated by that department.
As for the caregiver, Ms Gordo, she was a little tougher. In fact, she held her ground but unfortunately her testimony changed from previous statements. She had complained about her documents being withheld, but today said that she never relinquished them. She had complaints about Ruby supervising her, but she only worked in the home 11 days and Ruby had only been in the GTA for 3 of those days. After 11 days, she quit telling Ruby Dhalla's mother, Tavinder, that she'd found a better job at a hospital through a friend.
Dhalla's testimony was good overall. She skirted a question from Con. MP Dykstra, which I thought was unnecessary. She was asked if the home in question was her residence. She tried to play that down by pointing out how infrequently she was there, but imo, that had already been established and there was no need to skirt. Other than though, her testimony was straight forward and generally backed up by documentation. She too displayed emotion. She controlled it, but it was evident to all that this has taken a toll and she is somewhat horrified that this is taking place.
The political parties, in the main, were pretty fair. The Liberals weren't terribly deferential toward Ruby, nor tough on the caregivers. The Bloc was more interested in process and aside from one snide comment by St. Cyr I think, stuck to their script. The NDP fielded Irene Matthysen, who played the kindly aunt to the women caregivers and was matter of fact with Ruby. Then we have the Conservatives.
In an unexpected move, (to me anyway), Rick Dykstra expressed a modicum of compassion toward Ruby. On the second round however, he handed over his time to, 'I never met a situation I didn't want to exploit for political purposes', Dean Del Mastro. He was sanctimonious, sarcastic and made digs for the sake of it allowing no opportunity for Dhalla to respond. His grand finale was a question that I'm sure he thought was going to kill her. 'If your home and family is so wonderful, so compassionate, so loving...if life in that home was so incredible...can you explain why Ms Gordo left after 11 days?' , (paraphrased). Dhalla then calmly explained how Gordo suddenly quit without ever having produced her documentation.
Del Mastro, once again, was extremely successful in looking the fool. Hey, credit where credit is due!
I don't know where this will all go. If Dhalla's testimony is true, this trial by news stories is despicable. Regaining a hard fought for reputation, even having been exonerated, is a tough go for a politician.
Maybe the Star reporter will spend some time looking into the other side of the story? Yea, I know. If wishes were horses...