Tuesday, January 16, 2018

COP ministers must resign

...says Rowley after Cabinet members vote against Govt

Congress of the People (COP) Ministers Winston Dookeran and Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan should do the honourable thing and resign from the Cabinet, says Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley.

Speaking at the People’s National Movement (PNM) meeting in St James on Tuesday night, Rowley said both ministers cannot vote against the Gov-ernment on one matter and then return to Cabinet under collective responsibility. Dookeran and Seepersad-Bachan voted against the Con­sti­tution (Amendment) Bill 2014 in Parliament on Tuesday morning, but the bill was still passed with Government’s simple majority.

“The COP members had found it fit to remove themselves from the bill, and if they were so going to vote against the Government in the Parliament, they should have done the honourable thing and removed themselves from the Cabinet, so what we would have now is a resignation from the Cabinet of Winston Dookeran and Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan,” said Rowley.

“If Winston Dookeran is true to form and within the concept of the Westminster model, I expect that he will now continue and take it to its logical conclusion because I don’t know how he can remain in the Cabinet, having voted against the Government on a fundamental matter of this nature,” he added.

He also criticised the Prime Minister’s move to release Government members from collec­tive responsibility and vote with their conscience.

“When she realised what had been put in the public domain as to how the COP had been instructed to vote, she comes and tells them and tells us she is releasing them from the whip so they could vote their conscience; they had already been instructed by the party to tell Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the UNC (United National Congress) to go and put that bill where the monkey put the nuts,” said Rowley.

Rowley said in the British go­vernment when former prime minister Tony Blair went to George Bush and sent British troops into Iraq, a member of the British Cabinet disagreed with Blair’s move.

That member, said Rowley, resigned from the Cabinet.

Rowley also disclosed Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had written to him, reques­ting he propose two persons to the Constitution Review Commission. He said he wrote her back, seeking clarification on the appointments and never heard from her again.

He further dismissed what he described as “nonsense” the Cham­ber’s position the Constitution amendments were a step in the right direction.

“All I can say to the Chamber of Commerce is that social and economic instability is not a prize that the people of Trinidad and Tobago would like to win,” said Rowley.