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Thursday, December 12, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Dumas on Imbert, Latulippe issue: High Commissioner should go to MP
Former head of T&T missions Reginald Dumas says it was not normal in his view for the head of a mission to invite an MP of the country to which he is accredited to come and meet with him. “That’s a bit unusual. If you, as a mission head, have something to say to an MP, one goes to the MP and calls on them, rather than asking them to come to you,” Dumas said yesterday during a telephone interview.
He was commenting on the issue concerning People’s National Movement (PNM) MP Colm Imbert, the SNC-Lavalin Penal hospital contract and the involvement of Canadian High Commissioner Gerard Latulippe. Last week in Parliament, Imbert claimed he underwent “Canadian pressure” to meet with the Canadian Commercial Corporation and the High Commissioner after it was revealed he was bringing a motion on SNC-Lavalin to Parliament last Friday.
Imbert has said he found it “strange” Latulippe’s office e-mailed him on the Thursday before to seek the meeting at the High Commissioner’s office with the Commissioner and Corporation’s vice president. Imbert said the e-mailed invitation also included a request for him to allow the High Commissioner to bring an SNC-Lavalin vice-president to the meeting. Latulippe said Monday he had nothing further to say on the SNC-Lavalin issue.
Yesterday, Dumas said a head of mission is supposed to try to do whatever he can to advance the interest of his country; and since Corporation was a Canadian government enterprise, it was natural for Latulippe to do what could be done to advance the interests of the firm recommended by his own government agency. But he added: “In my view, a High Commissioner should be going to see the MP, not calling him to see him at the High Commissioner’s office. That’s a bit unusual.
“When I was in Washington, I’d go to Congress members, I didn’t summon them to my office,” Dumas said. “So the High Commissioner should have gotten in touch with Imbert and sought an appointment and gone to him. Imbert is a former Cabinet minister. “And if you want Imbert to meet with SNC-Lavalin personnel, one could ask if that was all right with him, to bring along those persons to hear their side of the story before they went to him. That’s what I would have done.”
On Imbert’s claim that Latulippe was a provincial division deputy minister, Dumas said this type of post was almost a senior public servant in Canada, equivalent to T&T’s permanent secretary. He said a deputy minister is chosen or employed on a contract basis.
On allegations and questions Imbert raised about Latulippe, Dumas questioned whether Government had examined Latulippe’s curriculum vitae when it was sent, according to the usual diplomatic procedure, by Canadian authorities to T&T to be examined before agreement on his appointment. Querying whether checking was non-existent, Dumas asked if Government had found the issues Imbert is now raising. He said nothing was required to fix the so-called “diplomatic mess.”
“I saw the Communications Minister already issued a statement, but it wasn’t necessary,” he commented. “Also, how did he know Imbert’s statement was ‘inaccurate,’ as he said?”
Dumas queries SNC-Lavalin
Dumas said in the SNC-Lavalin issue, one also had to raise the question of T&T’s High Commissioner to Canada, as he had a previous post with SNC-Lavalin “which raises questions also over the role he might have played in the matter.” High Commissioner Philip Buxo was director of the Caricom energy and infrastructure division of SNC-Lavalin before being appointed in 2010.
Dumas also said: “Successive governments have been highly deficient in checking the accreditation of persons we’re putting in posts whether, foreign or local; we tend to accept what is put before us and we’re now seeing a number of local cases in which we’re doing the wrong thing.” He said the Government should have dropped the SNC-Lavalin contract “long ago,” since the World Bank black-listed the conglomerate and SNC-Lavalin officials had been in the news last year on other issues.
Dookeran: Envoy passed muster
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran said yesterday Canadian High Commissioner Gerard Latulippe’s CV went through the normal scrutiny process in T&T and everything was approved at all levels. Dookeran was responding to queries by former head of missions Reginald Dumas about Latulippe’s CV following allegations by PNM MP Colm Imbert. Dookeran said he did not know the issues Imbert had raised in the Parliament on Latulippe or whether they were accurate.
He said he had spoken to Latulippe when he returned recently from overseas and the High Commissioner had expressed concern that his personal matters were raised in the Parliament and had added there was no veracity to Imbert’s contentions.
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