Warner said the motion was an attempt to demonise Rowley and it had only reached Parliament because Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had allegedly been “kidnapped” by a Hindu cabal.
Government Chief Whip Dr Roodal Moonilal rose to complain that such a remark violated the standing orders and Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh seated nearby urged, “Ask him (Warner) to withdraw.”
Speaker Wade Mark advised Warner to try to link his speech to the substantive motion before the House.
Warner replied, “Mr Speaker, you’d said the gloves are off.”
Mark responded, “It is a substantive motion against the Member for Diego Martin West. All gloves are off with respect to that Member, but not other Members. The only person under the spotlight is the Leader of the Opposition.”
Warner asked if he could speak about other MPs, to which Mark advised him to stay within the standing orders.
Warner stated, “In the Bible the shortest verse is ‘Jesus wept’. This shall now go down as my shortest contribution. I now weep, Mr Speaker.”
He took his seat, packed his briefcase and left the chamber.
Earlier, Warner had said the motion was “meaningless and has no substance”, yet the Government had dropped all the other affairs of the country to go to Parliament to debate it. “There are so many other pressing issues,” he chided. “Nothing that is said here could not have been said on a platform outside.”
Warner said while the outcome of any vote on the motion would be won by the weight of Government numbers, what would happen next?
Asking if the Government side would try to fire Rowley as Opposition Leader, Warner said Government MPs had not appointed him and so could not move him. He said Opposition MPs had chosen Rowley as leader.
“To come here with this motion is an abuse of parliamentary time,” he chided the Government. “This has to be an abuse, a waste of Parliament’s time and resources”. The motion is “frivolous in the extreme,” he hit.
Warner asked aloud who was so badly advising the PM, and suggested she may have enemies within her Government. They should instead be debating issues such as last Monday’s road gridlock, and the issues of education, health, crime and the economy. Earlier Warner had accused St Augustine MP Prakash Ramadhar of blind loyalty to the Government, but was told by the Speaker, “Do not reflect on a Member’s character.”
Warner suggested the Prime Minister had not accepted an explanation on the handling of a credit card by Minister in the Ministry of the People, Vernella Alleyne-Toppin, repeated in the House earlier.
Continuing on Alleyne-Toppin, he said it was difficult to watch an MP denigrate another MP, in a case for which no criminal charges were ever laid and for which there exists no mug-shot nor fingerprints. By contrast he said persons today sit as Ministers who had once been arrested. He alleged Government has abandoned its job to engage in tunnel-vision electioneering.