Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Charge Rowley with misconduct and misbehaviour in office: PM Kamla

Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar on Monday called several times for Opposition Leader Keith Rowley to be charged with misconduct and misbehaviour in office. And she said both Rowley and and Integrity Commission chairman Ken Gordon acted irresponsibly when they held a secret meeting at Gordon's home.

She was speaking at a meeting of the United National Congress in Felicity. 

She mocked Rowley about his story about the secret door in his office, comparing him to the Pink Panther who created imaginary doors through which he made quick escapes.

One of Rowley's staunchest supporters is calypsonian Eric Taylor who is known in the entertainment world as Pink Panther.

After poking fun at Rowley, including playing the Henry Mancini Pink Panther theme music, the Prime Minister got down to a serious attack on Rowley for what she called his "clandestine rendezvous" with Gordon.

She wondered what was so urgent that Rowley had to go to Gordon's house. "Mr. Gordon invited him to drop in at his home on the night of May 15th to discuss the urgent matter. And you know what the matter was? It was this fraudulent email business that he wanted to bring up in Parliament to try to embarrass your government," she said. 

She said the two men met in secret expecting that it would have remained that way if Roodal Moonilal didn't go to Parliament last Thursday and ask whether Rowley could say if he meet on May 15 with a "high official" of the commission. 

When reporters asked Rowley about the meeting he brushed it off and said, "I meet with all kinds of people so what is the point?" The Prime Minister noted that the point was that he met with Gordon in breach of the ethical rules that guide the commission.

She said while Rowley was saying it was "no big deal" it would have been a different story if she had a secret meeting with Gordon. "All hell would break loose and Dr. Rowley would be demanding my resignation and a general election," she said.

While not attacking Gordon directly she made the point that Gordon knew very well that he should not have divulged confidential information to anyone. She pointed out that it was Gordon who called in the police last year when he suspected that someone from the commission had leaked confidential information to the media. 

Mr. Gordon himself responded to a leak of confidential information in 2012 by calling upon the police to investigate the matter. He knew that it was a felony and a breach of the Commission’s mandate to release any information to outside parties without a court order," Persad-Bissessar said.

She reminded her audience of Gordon's own words in response questions about calling in police. "Had we not reported this we would have been totally irresponsible," Gordon said at the time.

She turned it around against them. "What was Dr. Rowley doing in a secret meeting held after dark at his (Gordon's) home? Was that not irresponsible? I would say that it was beyond irresponsible," she said.

In a carefully presented case in which she indicted Rowley and Gordon for breaking the Integrity in Public Life Act, she pointed out contradictory comments made by the two men and insisted that Gordon was out of line when he voluntarily gave confidential information to Dr. Rowley.

She referred to an interview Rowley gave to the media in which he said he wanted to see Gordon because he  wanted to ensure that his conduct in the Parliament would be in keeping with what was expected of him as a Parliamentarian.

"Why would he go to Mr. Gordon for such advice?" the PM asked. "Is he saying that Mr. Gordon is a political adviser to the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the People’s National Movement? And is he saying that is why he wanted the Chairman of the Integrity Commission to offer advice on how he would present himself in the Parliament five days later?"

She wondered if that is why Rowley insisted that only the Integrity Commission must investigate the email matter. She also pointed out to Rowley's double standards.

"Just last year Dr. Rowley stated publicly that he had no confidence in the Ken Gordon led Integrity Commission.

"So when it suits his convenience, the Integrity Commission is of no value … and when he meets with Mr. Gordon on the eve of his frivolous charges in Parliament, the Commission is the only organisation fit to investigate his scandalous charges," Persad-Bissessar said.

"My sisters and brothers, this matter of a secret meeting is not to be taken lightly.
It strikes at the very heart of our system of governance and the independence of our institutions in this country."

She said the Opposition Leader acted improperly and in breach of established conventions and said in her view Rowley should be charged with "misconduct and misbehaviour in public office" for bringing his office into disrepute.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai