Time is quickly running out for the opposition United National Congress (UNC) to debate its motion of no-confidence in Attorney General Reginald Armour in the Parliament.
In the House of Representatives, the motion was filed by Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein on June 13. However, because of the Standing Orders, the motion only qualifies to be placed on the Order paper on June 27. Twelve days notice is required for any motion filed.
What makes it even more difficult for the Opposition is that this type of motion has to be brought on Private Members’ Day (when the Opposition decides what is debated). However, there will be no more options for Private Members’ Day (PMD) before Parliament takes a mandatory break on July 8. This is because PMD is usually on the fourth Friday of each month.
This was on Tuesday confirmed by the Leader of Government Business in the the House Camille Robinson-Regis.
“In accordance with Standing Order 14 of the HoR, the ruling is that the end of the first week in July, that is July 8, 2022, to the end of the first week in September, that is September 8, 2022, the Parliament takes a mandatory recess. So there are no sittings during this period unless there is some urgent issue,” Robinson-Regis said.
Asked if the Opposition’s motion will have to be re-filed in the next session of Parliament (which begins in September), she said, “It will.”
Guardian Media also reached out to Opposition Chief Whip David Lee to find out what the plan is, seeing that it seems highly likely there will be no opportunity to debate the motion in the Lower House before the current session ends.
“I would have to get back to you. The motion stays on the order paper until this session ends. But we can and will prosecute this motion in the Public Parliament. Court of public opinion! We would not let this issue rest until AG Amour resigns,” he said.
In the Senate (Upper House), the same motion was filed by Opposition Senator Wade Mark on June 14.
It also qualifies to be placed on the Order paper on June 27 but Private Members’ Day is on the fourth Tuesday of each month and after June 27, the only option before the recess is June 28.
However, Mark told Guardian Media that there are other motions filed before Armour’s in the Senate, so he is at the bottom of the list.
He assured, however, that if they do not get through with it in this session, it will be re-filed.
The motion of no-confidence in the AG was brought by the UNC following Armour’s disqualification in a matter in a Miami court related to the Piarco International Airport construction issue, he having represented former finance minister Brian Kuei Tung in the criminal matter.
The UNC says the AG’s conduct in the matter has “embarrassed Trinidad and Tobago and brought his office into odium and disrepute” after swearing to an affidavit containing false information.
Armour has said there was no attempt on his part to mislead the (Miami) court in any way.
He added, “I did not get an opportunity to correct my affidavit because the judge made the order before I had a chance to do so.”
The AG added that “there was nothing to be gained by downplaying” his involvement in Brian Kuei Tung’s case.
What the motion says
Whereas Section 76(2) of the Constitution provides that the Attorney General is responsible for the administration of legal affairs in Trinidad and Tobago;
And whereas the Attorney General is required to uphold the Constitution and adhere to the Code of Ethics of the Legal Profession Act, Chap. 90:03, and maintain the rule of law to engender public confidence and trust in the office of the Attorney General;
And whereas a Miami Court has disqualified the Attorney General from acting on behalf of Trinidad and Tobago, due to a conflict of interest as the Defendants in the Miami matter were his former clients;
And Whereas in said matter the Attorney General swore an affidavit dated April 24, 2022, wherein, he made several patently false statements and manifestly misrepresented the facts of his involvement with his former clients;
And whereas the Attorney General’s conduct has embarrassed Trinidad and Tobago and brought his office into odium and disrepute;
be it resolved that this Senate declare that it has lost confidence in the Attorney General, Senator the Honourable Reginald Armour, SC.