Members of Parliament do not say that one of their colleagues is lying. At most, they may allege "terminological inexactitude" or some other euphemism. And National Security Minister Jack Warner seems chronically prone to this condition.
Last week Tuesday, in response to a question filed by the Opposition, Mr Warner told the Senate that the Police Service Commission (PSC) had recommended ex gratia payments totalling over $2 million to dismissed top cops Dwayne Gibbs and Jack Ewatski. Indeed, he specifically said, as though washing his hands of any responsibility, that "I can only be guided by the advice of the Police Service Commission; nothing more, nothing less.''
On Thursday, however, the PSC categorically denied that it had ever given any such advice. "The Commission wishes to state that it never made any such recommendation. Neither does the issue of such payments fall under the constitutional mandate of the Commission," said an official statement from the PSC.
Yet Mr Warner is standing by his words, even though he hasn't produced any documentary proof for the claim. But, of course, this is not the only time this Minister has been caught misleading the people. Only last month, Mr Warner infamously stated that he had instructed the police to stop providing homicide statistics to the media. When, the next day, Police Commissioner Stephen Williams said that he had received no such instructions, Mr Warner simply stated that he had never issued any such orders — this despite the fact that all the TV stations had him recorded on video saying exactly that.
It therefore appears that the description of Mr Warner given last July by the international Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) — "appears to be prone to an economy with the truth" — is right on the money. And, to add insult to inaccuracy, Mr Warner's prevarications are often allied to crassness, the most recent example being his statement at last Monday's UNC forum where he said, "They say the Prime Minister is killing Wayne Kublalsingh, but he is killing himself and he better do it quickly!"
Given the obvious political fallout from such statements on an already beleaguered administration, citizens must wonder why Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has refused to rein in Mr Warner, especially when she has dismissed other persons for relatively less cause. Conspiracy theorists hold that Mr Warner has "files" on Mrs Persad-Bissessar which make him immune to dismissal or even discipline. The simpler explanation, however, is money. Deep pockets are needed to win elections, and that has always been Warner's main qualification for politics.
But whether his millions can offset the political damage he has inflicted on the People's Partnership is a calculation Mrs Persad-Bissessar should revisit, and soon.