Integrity Commission chairman Dr Eric St Cyr's recent statements about the Prime Minister's stay at a Tunapuna house is a clear manifestation of an "open bias" that seems to favour the PNM and party leader Keith Rowley, according to Works Minister Jack Warner. Warner made the point in a letter to President George Maxwell Richards yesterday calling for St Cyr's removal. At the same time, PNM senator Fitzgerald Hinds was writing to the Integrity Commission, seeking probe of the Prime Minister's conduct. Warner also wrote St Cyr directly, asking him to resign.
The Government has criticised St Cyr for saying the recent controversy around the Prime Minister and her stay at a Tunapuna house last year could have been avoided if she had stayed at a hotel. St Cyr had said he was not thinking of resigning and could possibly recuse himself if the issue went to the Integrity Commission.
Warner, however, told the President that St Cyr's statement was a premature pronouncement and "is not simply a lapse in judgment." He said: "This is the second time in less than a year since the Government was elected into office that Dr St Cyr has provoked the ire of the national community and also again this is the second time his premature pronouncements seem to be intended to give credibility to statements made by Rowley."
Warner said that since St Cyr has failed on not one occasion but two, in less than one year, "It appears therefore that he lacks the ability to appreciate the importance of dispensing opinions in a manner that instils confidence in the national community. "Given his track record, it is difficult for one to say without equivocation that here is a man we can trust...like the chairman of the Police Service Commission who brought his own commission into disrepute and suffered the consequences for it, Dr St Cyr has brought the Integrity Commission into disrepute," he said. Warner said it was difficult not to believe that St Cyr's statements as chairman were not a reflection of the thinking of the entire commission.
"It is as a result of this uncertainty, the seeming compromise of Dr St Cyr's own integrity, his lack of restraint and judgment and the apparition of an alliance with the Leader of the Opposition, that it is my firm view and that of my colleagues that he is unfit to hold the office of chairman," Warner said. He said the commission's chairman was expected not only to do the right thing, but also to be perceived to be doing the right thing.
In his letter to St Cyr, Warner said: "My hope is that you do not force the President into making this difficult decision. "Your comments were not just a lapse of judgment because it establishes in one's mind the notion that they are formed to add credence to views articulated by the Leader of the Opposition.
"As a reminder of the trend you have set, it is necessary for you to recall the unpopular opinion you offered concerning my decision to serve as both a government minister and the vice-president of FIFA, and now again your unpopular opinion on the Prime Minister's decision to seek out an alternative residence immediately after the Honourable Kamla Persad-Biessessar was elected." Rowley did not answer calls on Warner's accusation.
Yesterday, Police Service Commission member Martin George also said he felt St Cyr should resign.