Friday, December 15, 2017

'No PNM support for Tobago Bill'


mason hall meeting: Candidate for Providence/ Mason Hall   Sheldon Cunningham, from left, People’s National Movement (PNM) leader Dr Keith Rowley and Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary   Orville London at a public meeting in Mason Hall, Tobago, on Wednesday night. —Photo: ELIZABETH WILLIAMS

Mark Fraser

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has said the People's National Movement (PNM) will not be supporting the Government on the Constitutional (Amendment) (Tobago) Bill 2012 on January 16 when debate begins in Parliament.

Rowley made the statement at a PNM political meeting in Mason Hall, Tobago, on Wednesday night. Rowely said the approach by the Government in light of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election, due on January 21, was not timely.

"Well, I am putting all of you on notice. I am putting the country on notice; there will be no co-operation with the Government on this matter, none whatsoever," Rowley said.

Rowley, however, gave the Government an ultimatum. A committee must be formed and given a six-month period within which to report. Following the committee's findings on the bill, he suggested a report should then be finalised and the matter debated in the Assembly before it comes to Parliament.

"And the make-up of the committee will be such that there will be proper representation by the Government, Opposition, Independent senators and by the THA majority, minority, if they so exist in the House," he said.

Rowley then elaborated on one section of the bill, which he described as disturbing and confusing.

"There is a clause in the bill that says Tobago will now be given the power to pass laws, but if you pass any law that is different to any existing law of the national Parliament, the law that you pass is void. So what do the people of Tobago get?"

He quoted from letters between the Government and himself between February and April of 2011. He told the meeting of the "deceitfulness" of the present Prime Minister in trying to fool the Opposition into signing onto a process, the details of which he was not aware. 

"It was Jack Warner who said that there is nobody more charming and more deceptive than Kamla Persad-Bissessar. I am putting to you, the people, on notice that Jack Warner sometimes speaks the truth."

Referring again to the Calcutta statements made by PNM candidate for Roxborough/Delaford Hilton Sandy as unacceptable, he said this in no way gave the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) the lead in the upcoming THA election. Sandy has since apologised for his statements.

"And there are those who so glad for that, that they believe that will be the election in Tobago, but I want to tell Ashworth Jack tonight, pumpkin or no pumpkin, Sandy or no Sandy, you have questions to answer in Tobago."

One of the more keenly contested seats in the upcoming THA polls is the Providence/Moriah/ Mason Hall seat held by TOP leader Ashworth Jack. PNM Tobago Council leader Orville London told the meeting Jack needs to start packing his bags as the PNM will capture the seat.

London said only recently, he received a list of the 100 blunders and atrocities of the PP Government. London said voting for the TOP would mean the blunders will be added to Tobago under the People's Partnership Government.