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الرئيس في واشنطن رسميا‏ 25‏ مايو
للقاء أوباما وبحث سبل تعزيز السلام

واشنطن ـ من هدي توفيق وعاصم عبدالخالق ـ أ‏.‏ش‏.‏أ‏:‏

يتوجه الرئيس حسني مبارك إلي العاصمة الأمريكية‏(‏ واشنطن‏)‏ في الخامس والعشرين من الشهر الحالي‏,‏ في زيارة رسمية تمتد حتي السابع والعشرين من الشهر نفسه‏,‏ يلتقي خلالها بالرئيس الأمريكي باراك أوباما وعدد من كبار المسئولين بالإدارة الأمريكية‏.‏ أعلن ذلك أمس أحمد أبوالغيط وزير الخارجية‏.‏

وفي واشنطن‏,‏ صرح السفير المصري لدي الولايات المتحدة سامح شكري بأن الزيارة ستتناول سبل توطيد العلاقات الاستراتيجية بين البلدين في المجالات المختلفة‏,‏ وبحث المستجدات المرتبطة بعملية السلام في الشرق الأوسط‏,‏ وأولوية تحريك المفاوضات بين الجانبين الفلسطيني والإسرائيلي لإعادة عملية السلام لمسارها الصحيح‏,‏ فضلا عن مناقشة عدد من القضايا الإقليمية والدولية التي تمس أمن المنطقة واستقرارها‏.‏

تعد هذه الزيارة هي الأولي للرئيس مبارك إلي الولايات المتحدة منذ خمس سنوات‏,‏ حيث كانت آخر زيارة له لواشنطن في أبريل‏2004.‏

 

 

 

Brampton-Springdale MP Ruby Dhalla testifies before a parliamentary committee in Ottawa, Tuesday, May 12, 2009.Brampton-Springdale MP Ruby Dhalla testifies before a parliamentary committee in Ottawa, Tuesday, May 12, 2009.

CTV.ca News Staff

In an opening statement before the standing committee for citizenship and immigration, which is investigating the allegations, Dhalla questioned the veracity of the claims and decried what she said were attacks on her character.

“I, like many others, are trying to wonder why these caregivers have come forward 15 months later, after leaving our home on what I thought was on good terms,” Dhalla said, her voice shaking. “I don’t know what their motive is, but I do want to tell all of you today that I have nothing to hide and I have done nothing wrong.”

The caregivers — Magdalene Gordo, 31, and Richelyn Tongson, 37 — have said they were forced to work long hours and complete tasks such as washing the family cars when they were hired to care for Dhalla’s mother starting in February 2008.

In video testimony from Toronto on Tuesday, Gordo said she quit the job when the hours became unbearable and it appeared Dhalla would not follow through on promises to get her a work permit.

“As the days went by, I felt uncomfortable and overworked, working from 7:30 a.m. until 11 p.m. … doing various household chores, not caregiving jobs,” Gordo said.

“I did not see any proof that she would fulfil her promise of sponsoring me … She and her mother repeatedly insisted in asking for my passport.”

Gordo said that on one instance, Dhalla called her from her constituency office and demanded she give up her passport.

“I told her that I had left it in my apartment. Ruby angrily shot back with an order: ‘If you don’t give your passport then I will never sponsor you,'” Gordo said.

“From this day on, I became concerned and terribly worried about my situation working for Dr. Ruby Dhalla without the proper documentation.”

Gordo also alleged that Dhalla yelled at her, called her names and did not pay her for a month after she gave notice that she would be quitting.

Last week, the MP for Brampton-Springdale denied the claims by the two former caregivers, as well as a third caregiver, Lyle Alvarez, who stepped forward to say she too was overworked and under-compensated.

In a news conference with her lawyer last Friday, Dhalla called the claims “false and unsubstantiated.”

“Anyone that has ever entered our home has always been treated with love, with care, with compassion and respect,” Dhalla said.

“As such, the allegations that have been brought forward against myself have come as a big shock and have been devastating to both myself and my family, friends and supporters.”

On Tuesday, Dhalla repeated earlier denials that she hired the caregivers and said it was her brother, Neil, and mother who oversaw their work.

Dhalla produced flight boarding passes in an attempt to prove that she was not in Brampton for much of the time that the caregivers’ worked for her family.

But Gordo said Neil Dhalla “was never involved in interviewing me, orienting me in the job responsibilities, nor supervising me. He never introduced himself as my employer. He did not discuss employment issues with me.”

Gordo said her only contact with Neil Dhalla was when he showed her how to shine his shoes and care for his suits.

In her testimony on Tuesday, Dhalla also disputed claims that the caregivers were forced to shovel snow or clean the family’s chiropractic clinics, holding up receipts to show the work was done by companies the family hired.

Dhalla’s lawyer, Howard Levitt, said Friday that the allegations are part of an orchestrated smear campaign to destroy her reputation and ruin her political career.

The allegations ended Dhalla’s tenure as the Liberals’ multiculturalism and youth critic, a role she resigned from last week to focus on clearing her name. She is still an MP.

Two Ontario MPPs have also been swept up in the controversy.

The nannies told their stories at a community meeting attended by Ontario Labour Minister Peter Fonseca and Education Minister Kathleen Wynne last month, but neither politician reported the claims to federal officials.

Fonseca is also expected to appear before the standing committee for citizenship and immigration.

With files from The Canadian Press

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