The rule of law must prevail
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley's call for the resignation of Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and the Minister of Justice Herbert Volney gets tremendous force from what the Government has itself said in connection with Section 34 and its repeal.
What the Government, in the person of the AG said during the debate was a worse condemnation on it than the dishonesty it was accused of or the incompetence it surely exhibited.
The AG claims that the Government reverted to Parliament in emergency session because of "public disquiet" and some (unspecified) concerns expressed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Yet the AG must have known that those voices ought to have been heard before the proclamation of Section 34. He must have known that if his Government had to invoke the public and the DPP in a debate to repeal the Section it was admitting incompetence and misuse of the parliamentary process.
The debate got worse. The AG chose to overlay the Government's incompetence with bluster and trumpery. This would otherwise have been entertaining in the Trini way, but the overlay was cynical. It became apparent during the debate that "public disquiet" is the code for Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson. Worse, bluster and loudness from an AG so circumstanced as Mr Ramlogan betrays a belief that you can fool all the people all the time.
In the end, the indignation and vehemence with which the Government debated must have been faux.
As to Ish and Steve being code-worded in our Parliament, their lawyers surely would not have missed that.
I was involved as counsel in the Commission of Enquiry into the Piarco Project and I have no desire to see the matter go away prematurely. But the rule of law must prevail.
We cannot ever have a parliament under the control of a government which is willing to use the law-making process to take aim at particular citizens. That is a deep and fundamental erosion of the rule of law.
One need only imagine a legal system in which justice is dispensed instantaneously to see the point.
Ish and Steve would already have been free men when the Prime Minister was issuing her direction to repeal the section.
In the midst of it all, the political leader of the Congress of the People is facing the largest challenge yet. He will do well to accept that resignation is not only redemption for the culpable but honour for the principled too.
The real lesson of Section 34 lies not in what actually happened in the particular case. The real lesson is that under this Government the parliamentary process is susceptible to abuse and the people susceptible to being the victims of that abuse.
That susceptibility is sufficient to make the Opposition's call the only course open to us as a people to re-establish our belief in the rule of law and our commitment to the democratic process.
Port of Spain