Dogberry is a citizen constable in Shakespeare's comedy Much Ado About Nothing. He is a malaprop speaker, bumptiously misusing similar sounding words. He delivers a report in these terms: "Marry sir they have committed false report; moreover they have spoken untruths; thirdly they have verified unjust things."
The Section 34 fiasco lingers on tenaciously. The Government's explanation of the early proclamation of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011("the Administration Act"), the purpose of which was to stick Volney alone and "move on" might be likened to a Dogberry report. As you will see later, Dogberry knows when more than one person is involved.
Unfortunately, the verification of unjust things goes deeper. The depth of it is reflected in the following questions. The first and fundamental question, which I asked early o'clock, is why were white-collar crimes omitted from Schedule 6 of the act and therefore not excepted from the application of Section 34? This question remains evaded and unanswered.
Next it is said that a Cabinet Note recommended early proclamation in order to facilitate the recruitment of more Masters of the High Court for "a seamless transition to proclamation of the Act on January 3, 2013".
That is wholly unconvincing.
Have they as yet amended the Supreme Court of Judicature Act to permit such recruitment? Are they proceeding to recruit without the enabling law in place? Then they could equally well have recruited before any part of the Administration Act was proclaimed.
What little we have seen of the Cabinet Note amazingly does not seem to identify what part of the act was to be proclaimed in advance. If it did not identify what part of the act was to be proclaimed in advance, is it that no one in Cabinet asked which part? Is it that they bought cat in bag?
If the Cabinet Note did identify Section 34 as the part to be proclaimed early, did no one ask what were the implications of advance proclamation? Did they not see that there was no real link between the advance proclamation of Section 34 and the recruitment of Masters?
Another major troubling question is this: How does the Government reconcile conceiving Section 34 and omitting white collar crimes from Schedule 6 with the representation that the Piarco cases would be tried in Trinidad and Tobago?
According to the timelines set out in this newspaper, the creation of Section 34 was probably going on while the relevant extradition case was proceeding in the High Court. For sure the bill containing Section 34, with white-collar crimes omitted, was well ensconced in the Parliament before the Government's decision to accept the High Court's ruling without appealing and proceed with the Piarco cases in Trinidad. The passage of the Administration Act was completely inconsistent with any representation that the Piarco cases would proceed in Trinidad and Tobago. This inconsistency requires much explanation.
In the absence of the answers we seek, Dogberry would say and many would agree: "One word, sir. Our watch, sir, have comprehended two aspicious persons and we would have them this morning examined before your Worship."
In the October, 2012 issue of Vanity Fair, in an article entitled "Obama's Way", President Obama is quoted as saying this about the office of President: "I would say that your first and principal task is to think about the hopes and dreams the American people invested in you. Every thing you are doing has to be viewed through that prism. I actually think every President understands that responsibility. I don't know George Bush well. I know Bill Clinton better. I think they both approached the job in that spirit."
When this Government was elected I thought it was the most important Government since Independence because we had trusted again, after the NAR debacle, in a promise of an approach of unity. Very many had believed the pre-election promises of an attempt at better governance, particularly on account of the partnership model they sold us. We should therefore not be disappointed again.
I told the members of this Government of this importance when I was invited to lead a session on the separation of powers at the commencement of the Government's term in 2010.
Reggie Dumas was the other presenter. He dealt with the relationship with the Public Service. We agreed that we would sit in on each other's session to give two sessions independent and objective guides on governance to the best of our ability.
At mid-term however, the view through the prism of the hopes and dreams invested in this bunch's promises described above is muddy. Messing about with national security and justice has deeply disturbed the body politic.
The further verification of unjust things by the use of blindly partisan crowds and the madness of personal attacks on all critics are not welcome signs that there might be a sorely needed mid-course correction.