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PNM WALKOUT

By Andre Bagoo Sunday, February 16 2014

LEGISLATION to protect the public against dangerous dogs was passed on Friday night in the House of Representatives.

The Dog Control (Amendment) Bill 2014 was passed by 23 Government votes for, with Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner voting against.

Vote on the legislation came after the Opposition PNM staged a walkout at 8.03pm. That walkout came as Attorney General Anand Ramlogan began to wind up debate on the legislation.

Ramlogan was in the process of attacking PNM St Joseph MP Terrence Deyalsingh who had moments earlier sparred with Ramlogan over the use of information during the debate from an animal behavorialist named Kristel Ramnath. Deyalsingh, reading what he said was correspondence from Ramnath in which she distanced herself from the legislative proposals, called on Ramlogan to apologise to her.

As soon as he rose to speak, Ramlogan said, “His ex-girlfriend Kristel is probably missing his services on Valentine’s Day.” This remark prompted outrage from the Opposition bench and all members walked out.

Ramlogan said, “I don’t know who you speaking to. Kristel who?” He accused the PNM of, “Misconceptions, deceptions and the political hypocrisy and I will set them straight.” He later said, “I listened in amazement as the PNM stood one after the other and criticised the bill as a matter of policy.” He said the legislation proposed amendments to an act that had already been passed and supported by the PNM.

“Every single member of the PNM voted in support of the Dog Control Act. And today they throw stones at it and the very policy that they supported” Ramlogan said.

It was an acrimonious end to one of the few instances of legislative cooperation between the Government and Opposition during the current Parliament. Last year, the entire House had backed the parent Act.

Ramlogan said the amending law — which contained operational details of the law — would be passed regardless. He dismissed concerns over how particular species of dangerous dogs will be identified under the legislation.

“We will do it because it is the right thing to do: because we need protection,” Ramlogan said. “It is our intention to implement it and properly operationalise it at the soonest opportunity. The regulations are being drafted.”

The bill was passed with several amendments tabled by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar during the committee stage.

Also during Friday’s sitting of the House of Representatives, Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner raised a motion on the adjournment asking for the status of an ongoing investigation into the discovery of millions worth of cocaine in Norfolk, Virginia, USA.

Minister of National Security Gary Griffith said he could not comment on the matter.

“There is an ongoing joint investigation between the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and the Customs and Excise Division into the 732 kilogramme cocaine seizure,” he said.

“In light of the fact that the investigation is ongoing I can neither intervene nor comment on it at this time. It will not be appropriate for me to reveal any matters in relation to this investigation at this time.”

He chided politicians for commenting on the matter and defended the State intelligence agencies saying they regularly cooperate with international bodies and this has been effective in several instances.

Warner also had another motion on the adjournment on the status of the inter-island ferry. Minister of Transport Stephen Cadiz said a new ferry would be tended in four weeks’ time. He expressed the hope the ferry would have a fully local crew.

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