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Thank God. The truth is out on Ruby Dhalla

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

I think that I Ruby Dhalla, as the embattled and beauteous Liberal MP from Brampton-Springdale clearly prefers to be called given the number of times she referred to herself that way Tuesday, said it best.

She certainly spoke for marginalized women everywhere. In fact, I think it's a pretty safe bet she spoke for everyone in the country, and certainly for every politician.

I was lying on my couch watching television with my white bull terrier Obie when she said it Tuesday, which is sort of what I Ruby's mom, Tavinder, used to do with her supposed former caregivers when she wasn't making them food or waiting on them hand and foot, or the layabouts had actually deigned to come up from their luxurious quarters in the basement of the Dhalla family home and their own giant flat-screen TV.

When I heard I Ruby say it, in fact, I cried aloud, “Thank God. The truth is out. You rock, I Ruby!”

Unfortunately, I must have used a too-loud voice, because I disturbed the dog, who reproached me with a sharp look and a disdainful pffftt or two from his rear quarters.

He and I have a relationship that sounds comparable to that between Tavinder and the alleged caregivers: I'm the supposed master, but I'm not, which is why I sleep on a sixth of the bed, my arm braced on the night table, while he stretches out, and why I pick up his droppings and carry them about for hours as the treasures they are, and not the other way around, and why I routinely smother him with kisses while he gives me only the odd peck when he is feeling generous.

The nature of our relationship is in truth the exact opposite of how such relationships are conventionally understood, but we are both fine with that, just as the Dhallas and the purported caregivers probably were once. We have reached a certain comfortable accommodation, or so I used to think. I confess that the Dhallas' experience with their ungrateful alleged caregivers has me wondering if he will turn on me, as the ostensible caregivers did with I Ruby and family.

Already, the dog sometimes bites my calves playfully on our walks, when I am trying to go one way and he is bent on another, or when he is feeling particularly saucy.

Heretofore, I have always amused myself by imagining, should I be found dead in suspicious circumstances and my body autopsied, what the bewildered coroner would make of those little marks on the backs of my legs and the tiny bloodstains on so many pairs of jeans. It is in the event of that unfortunate turn of events that I am now putting on the record the true nature of the marks. I bet that I Ruby wishes she had done something like that herself before the so-called Nannygate affair burst into the headlines and she was left reeling.

Anyway, she was wrapping up her moving statement to a parliamentary committee, in which she detailed her haunting experience of the past week or so, when she explained that, although “people have used the words ‘power' to describe those that are in politics and the caregivers as the vulnerable,” they have it ass-backwards.

“I like the way you roll, I Ruby!” I shouted, prompting another baleful gaze-cum-flatulence from the dog.

“I think all of us as Canadians must never forget that politicians are people,” she said, then added tremulously, “People are human beings with feelings and emotions.”

It was but a small leap to take her inference: Supposed caregivers, not being politicians, probably aren't human beings with feelings and emotions, at least not the same sort of deep ones, although they may cry buckets and get all trembly when they speak, via video camera, to officials and MPs such as those on the committee. Supposed masters are supposed to be the bosses of their canine companions too, but I know the truth of that little societal construction.

I Ruby, as she reminded the committee a little later, is the victim here, either of the bewildering accusations made public by the alleged caregivers, or by the heartless curs of the press who reported the allegations, or of some bigger political conspiracy – perhaps, she hinted, one hatched by the Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney, whom she espied once in conversation with one of her political opponents.

Now, she offered no hard evidence but that sighting to indicate Mr. Kenney did anything of the sort.

But let's be frank: Although it is true that he is a politician and therefore human, he is also a man, a white one at that, and therefore not subjected to the same barriers that made I Ruby's struggle as a young, drop-dead gorgeous, Indo-Canadian woman designated as the Brampton-Springdale candidate in 2004 by then-prime-minister Paul Martin so terribly hard.

Her appearance before the committee lasted about an hour, and was shown between parts of Brian Mulroney's testimony, I believe between the gripping grade-school years and the college years. The perpetually beleaguered former prime minister, who has been fighting to clear his name longer than he ever was in office, was appearing before the Oliphant commission yesterday.

He wasn't as blunt about it as I Ruby, but, you know, I think his words and body language made it pretty clear that, appearances to the contrary, he is the victim in this one – generally of what he called the “deceitful and false purveying of information” about him, particularly by the German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber.

Indeed, Mr. Mulroney explained that it was precisely because the enormity of those attacks made upon him over the Airbus affair had so scarred him that when Mr. Schreiber handed him envelopes stuffed with cash that he took them, and kept them secret, even from his accountant. It was to avoid a repeat of the Airbus attacks, he said: In effect, Airbus made him do it.

Politicians really are people, and people are human beings, with feelings and emotions. We have all been reminded of that – ostensible caregivers with their slurs, German-Canadian businessmen bearing envelopes, scurrilous reporters, and those of us who live to serve white bull terriers.

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