TRINIDAD Y TOBAGO: Kamla: No justice in the House - EntornoInteligente / News day / The decision was made yesterday morning by the UNC’s executive, one day after the party walked out of Parliament during a heated debate rife with allegations of racism from both sides of the floor. The party’s decision was announced by UNC political leader Kamla Persad- Bissessar in a press briefing yesterday afternoon at Fun Splash in Debe, where the party hosted an all-day strategic planning meeting attended by the executive, its members of Parliament and local government representatives.

“Today I received (a statement) from the national executive of our party…calling upon us in the Parliament, in the House, to file a motion of no-confidence in the Speaker based on not just last night’s incident (Friday), but there have been several incidents throughout the course of the year in this session,” said Persad-Bissessar. “And therefore, we have taken the decision today that we will file a motion of no-confidence in the Speaker of the House of Representatives.” Friday night’s incident involved a cross-floor shouting match which ended when the UNC MPs walked out of the Parliament. At the time, Persad-Bissessar’s motion on flooding as a matter of urgent importance was being debated.

The chaos began after Princes Town MP Barry Padarath criticised Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley of practising only “public relations” in his response to the extensive flooding in south Trinidad in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Bret. He also accused Government of harbouring “disdain for the people of south Trinidad because they believe all those are UNC people.” Padarath’s comments threw the Parliament into a frenzy. Padarath accused Arouca/Maloney MP Camille Robinson-Regis of calling him a racist and in turn responded by calling the Prime Minister a racist. To put an end to the chaos, Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George suspended the sitting to return at 7.10 pm.

However, when the sitting resumed, Annisette-George did not return to the debate about the state of south Trinidad, but gave the floor to Port-of-Spain North/ St Ann’s West MP Stuart Young to resume the debate on the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Amendment Act. This further angered the Opposition who called on the Speaker to give a ruling on their point of order. When the Speaker ignored their request, the Opposition left the chamber.

“And it is at that point that we felt that there was no justice in the Parliament and we decided to leave the Parliament,” said Persad-Bissessar.

“Now this of its own is just one in a series of matters that we have great concern about in terms of properly representing our constituents in the parliament, for freedom of expression to take up issues in the Parliament.” Persad-Bissessar said, according to the Constitution and the Westminster style of democracy throughout the Commonwealth, the role of the Speaker is to “facilitate freedom of expression” in the Parliament within the limits of the existing standing orders. “It is the duty of the Speaker to let parliamentarians have their say in the Parliament.” The Opposition Leader said the party was not in a position to give their list of evidence to support their motion because of the rules which govern how the Speaker could be spoken about outside of Parliament. The evidence will be saved for the debate on the motion, she said. Government Leader Robinson-Regis told Sunday Newsday yesterday via telephone that she was surprised by the announcement.

“I do not know why they have no confidence in the Speaker.” She said the Princes Town MP was “extremely disrespectful” to the Speaker and to the House of Representatives, adding that there is a standing order regarding disrespect towards the Speaker.

“So I am very surprised that they should file a motion.” She added the Opposition is in their right if they want to file that motion and “if it comes to the Parliament we will proceed and see what happens.”

TRINIDAD Y TOBAGO: Kamla: No justice in the House

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