The motion was passed in the House at 9.15 pm, by a vote of 24 ‘for’ to one ‘against’, hours after Rowley and 11 other People’s National Movement (PNM) MPs walked out of the Parliament Chamber after debate began on a second motion of no confidence against him.
San Fernando East MP Patrick Manning was not present, having been granted leave by Speaker Wade Mark from yesterday’s sitting. Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran and Public Administration Minister Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan were also not present for the vote.
Chaguanas West MP and Independent Liberal Party leader Jack Warner, was the only dissenting vote.
In her contribution to the debate, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar denied claims by the Opposition there was a connection between the Emailgate scandal and the Section 34 fiasco, insisting there was no truth to claims that Government was trying to protect UNC financiers Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson.
Recalling the sequence of events Government took to pass the controversial Administration of Justice Bill (in which Section 34 had its genesis), Persad-Bissessar said, “Section 34 is like a recurring decimal nightmare for them and for us.” Agreeing with contributions made by other Government MPs, Persad-Bissessar said, “This whole fake email gate is Rowley Gate.”
In concluding the debate, Government Chief Whip Dr Roodal Moonilal (mover of the motion) said Government will take its evidence to its political platforms, metaphorically tie it around Rowley’s neck and, “hang him with the truth.”
Responding to last night’s vote, Rowley said, “This is a Section 34 matter which they are trying to recast as a Rowley misconduct, to refocus us away from their shameful acts, in and around Section 34.”
“There is an urgency. They must get this done now. This is the fruit of desperation,” he added. The PNM political leader continued, “They would have you believe that I fabricated emails, then brought said emails to Parliament to ask for an investigation.”
When she spoke on the debate, PM Persad-Bissessar sought to deconstruct arguments against the motion made by both Warner and Diego Martin North East MP Colm Imbert (see story below).
In winding up the debate, Moonilal said that this was an opportune time for the Opposition Leader and the PNM MPs to defend themselves in the emailgate affair.
“I believe this is a disrespect to the Parliament, to the people and a disrespect to their constituents who elected them into office. They were elected to represent constituents in debates on motions etc,” Moonilal said.
He added that the debate had to do with quality of democracy and it called on the Opposition Leader to account but instead the Opposition MPs left.
“We came with signed evidence to contradict his claims and this was a golden opportunity for him to defend his arguments. It was an opportunity to defend yourself but he couldn’t ,” Moonilal said.
He also knocked Imbert for not choosing to deal with the substantive issue of the censure motion but rather to deal with the procedures of the House and rules governing same.
Moonilal alleged that Rowley was not interested in the truth as regard to the emailgate claims but rather wanted to use such claims in Parliament to trigger social unrest as a means of unseating the democratically elected government.
“By making such claims he thought he would have triggered social unrest and lead to the removal of the democratically elected government,” Moonilal said. He also chastised Warner for seeking to make Rowley to be a victim in this issue, when it was he (the Opposition Leader) who brought damning claims against the Prime Minister and senior government officials including a plot to murder a journalist, bugging the DPP’s office and perverting the course of justice.
“Chaguanas West said we are seeking to demonise Diego Martine West. When you make claims of the PM plotting to kill journalists and bug the DPP’s office that is not demonising the government. But when we come to defend ourselves, Chaguanas West says we are demonising Diego Martin West,” Moonilal said as he wound up the debate.