OPPOSITION LEADER Dr Keith Rowley has slammed Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith for using his role as acting President to be a rubber stamp for Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in the Section 34 fiasco.
Rowley is now calling for a review of the "arrangement for the Presidency" which allows for an "active politician" to take over the reins of the country's highest office when the substantive President is absent.
Rowley made the statements on Thursday night as he delivered the feature address at the People's National Movement's (PNM) public meeting in the car park of Starlite Shopping Plaza in Diego Martin.
On September 18, Rowley led thousands of citizens in a march from Woodford Square to President's House to hand deliver a petition calling for an investigation into why Section 34 was prematurely selected to become law.
President George Maxwell Richards was out of the country on vacation at the time of the march.
In Richards' absence, Hamel-Smith filled the role of President and met with Rowley and a contingent.
On September 28, Hamel-Smith issued a press release on his investigations and findings about the Section 34 fiasco.
Hamel-Smith also wrote Rowley a "confidential letter" on the matter.
"If it is confidential I have to keep it to myself but I do not work for myself, I work for you. I do not represent myself, I represent you," Rowley said.
He said he wrote Hamel-Smith requesting permission to breach the confidentiality because the information was important to the national community.
He said Hamel-Smith had not responded to the letter during the stipulated two-day timeframe but
Rowley read the letter at the PNM meeting.
"This is a matter that strikes at the heart of our arrangement in the constitution, that is why I am sharing it with you.
"As requested by you in our discussions on September 18, I have issued a statement to the public in response to the petition, which you presented to me as Leader of the Opposition. I enclose a copy of the statement that will be published in Saturday's newspapers," Rowley read.
"You will note from the statements that as requested by you I reviewed the various communications, Cabinet notes and minutes relative to the proclamation of the Act. I have to report that nothing in such documentation points to any course of action that was out of the ordinary or from which I can infer that anyone other than Mr Herbert Volney, the Minister of Justice, was responsible for matters relating to the passing and proclamation of the Act."
Rowley said Hamel-Smith's statement was an "identical position" as that of Persad-Bissessar in pinpointing Volney as the only culprit in the controversy.
"You know what this means. This means that the Office of the President has rubber stamped the Prime Minister's attempt to sweep this matter under the carpet," Rowley said.
"It calls into question immediately, is it acceptable in Trinidad and Tobago that an arrangement is such that a politician from inside the Parliament who is an active politician in the COP (Congress of the People) could end up in the Office of the President where the rule of law is being undermined by the Cabinet?" he asked.