Mr Warner on dangerous ground
If, when he was Works Minister, Jack Warner believed that the stymieing of the Port Fortin Highway project was an urgent issue, why didn't he treat it so? Instead, with the power of the National Security Minister thrust suddenly into his hands, Mr Warner wasted no time using that authority to tackle a matter no longer under his portfolio.
Two senior counsel, in the persons of Martin Daly and Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, have asserted that Mr Warner overstepped his authority by issuing instructions to Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier Kenrick Maharaj and to the police to dismantle the Highway Re-Route Movement's camp and remove its members.
Does Mr Warner believe that a National Security Minister can enforce the law by breaking the law? Indeed, his response was a casual, "If any laws have been breached, there are ways of having that resolved", as though culpability is irrelevant.
Even if it turns out that Minister Warner did not actually commit any legal transgression, his presence would have created a perception that the police and soldiers were taking orders from a politician. And, as Mr Warner should be well aware, in politics perception is reality. As it is, by taking punitive action and by accusing activist Wayne Kublalsingh of attacking a soldier, when no charges were laid to that effect, Mr Warner has given the Re-Route group the moral high ground.
Mr Warner has tried to justify his action by claiming that every day that the project was stalled cost the country millions of dollars. Even if that is so and he hasn't provided any proof to show it, why is Mr Warner only now expressing this concern rather than when he was Works Minister? Indeed, if he was so exercised about losing all this money, why didn't he make settling the issue his main priority when the project was put on hold last month? He could have set up a committee to iron out the issues with Dr Kublalsingh's group, and instituted public debates on the project.
Instead, having become National Security Minister, Mr Warner did not immediately turn his attention to the continued spate of daily murders, or the continued carnage on the nation's roads, or the need to improve police response times and detection rates. Instead, he fulfilled his "man of action" image by being on the scene, as though channelling past police commissioner Randolph Burroughs. Indeed, Mr Warner's first policy statement in his new portfolio was to raise the spectre of the Flying Squad, perceived to have been a death squad, which does not augur well for his approach to reducing crime. Hopefully, the new National Security Minister will not continue on this dangerous path.