Here is today's treeware column on Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla's nanny woes, with some linky freshness and a few notes.
That said, I have not included all the possible links I might have here for legal reasons. Some people in the blogosphere are making some accusations I would not want to have to defend in a courtroom, should it come to that. If you're curious about some of the things I write, I leave you to professor Google.
True, sexism has worked in Dhalla's favour, at least in one respect: the online cons with their action avatars have gone relatively easy on her, probably because of her "I'd do her"-worthiness. You can bet that, had she been less photogenic, she'd be getting the full-on, Hillary-Clinton-is-a-hag hate treatment.
And, isn't it interesting how she's ''Ruby'' in so many headlines? Just like ''Hillary.'' Just like "Belinda.''
But why is it that she is the only MP in Canada caught in a domestic staffing scandal, dubbed "SlaveGate" in some quarters of the right-wing blogosphere?
Consider: South of the border, a string of both men and women have been nailed over the years.
Here are some of the cases the Star library dug up:2004: Bernard Kerik withdraws from the position of homeland security secretary after admitting a Mexican nanny he hired may have been illegal and that he had not paid her employment taxes.
1995: California governor Pete Wilson’s fledgling presidential campaign suffers a blow when he admits to having hired an illegal immigrant housekeeper and failing to pay her employment taxes.
1994: California Senate candidate Michael Huffington and wife Arianna acknowledge they employed an illegal immigrant for five years. Huffington eventually loses the Senate election to Dianne Feinstein.
1994: Texas Congressman Henry Bonilla is found by the Justice Dept to have employed an illegal immigrant for seven years.
Note that they are all men.
And now back to the column:
Most recently, Timothy Geithner, U.S. President Barack Obama's treasury secretary, was criticized for having a housekeeper whose immigration papers expired while in his employ.
At the same time, business consultant Nancy Killefer declined a senior cabinet position, ostensibly because she hadn't paid her nanny's unemployment premiums in a timely fashion – back in 2005.
(He's in. She's out. Hmm.)
That wealthy and powerful people sometimes take advantage of vulnerable workers, who struggle to support families back home until they can bring them to Canada, is completely reprehensible.
For example, how is it that, as live-ins, many are forced to pay room and board?
Three years ago, Stephen Harper was sued for wrongful dismissal by his former chef at Stornoway. He alleged that he was forced to do everything from look after the children to clean the cat litter boxes for the then-Opposition leader.
(The case was quickly settled out of court, with the usual gag orders on the outcome.) True, he wasn't part of a special immigration program. But he was being paid by the taxpayers to cook, not to bury a dead cat, as his suit claimed.
One of the reasons there are so few women in Parliament – truly, we have just about the worst record in the developed world – is because of the lack of child care.
What's more, women are also usually burdened with looking after aging, ailing parents.
Just last month, White House communications director Ellen Moran was the first senior Obama adviser to step down, citing her marriage and two toddlers as the reason.
Now you'd think the Obamas, all things considered, would have onsite daycare. But no.
Indeed, Michelle Obama's mother Marian Robinson was roped in, initially reluctant to leave her lifelong Chicago home, to look after her granddaughters Malia and Sasha.
Not many parents are so fortunate to have such reliable back-up.
Admittedly, in Dhalla's Mississauga home, there are no children. There is just her, her brother Neil, and their mother Tavinder, who doesn't seem to be either particularly disabled or infirm.
Fears now among women who have emailed me are that, whatever happens to the nanny program, it will not make it easier for them.
First, because Canadians who want child care will have to jump through more bureaucratic hoops, with more possibilities for legal errors.
Second, because immigrant women hoping for better lives won't get the chance to earn them if Canadian parents play it safe by avoiding the live-in program.
Either way, it will be women – and children – who will pay the price.
I am leaving the comments section open because I would like to hear from parents and caregivers. Many emailed me today and gave me some interesting perspectives. I liked the line one former nanny sent: ''The lock up their jewels but give us their children.''
However, if what is happening on the Star's main website is any indication, the goderators will probably close the comments.