SENATE President Christine Kangaloo said no prima facie case has been made against National Security Minister Stuart Young regarding his comments about his meeting with US Ambassador to TT Joseph Mondello.
She made the ruling during the Senate sitting Wednesday.
She noted that earlier in the proceedings Senator Wade Mark alleged that Young deliberately misled the Senate and in support of the allegation cited Young’s response to questions posed on May 13, and also referred to a media release issued by Mondello Tuesday.
The release was regarding a meeting between Young and Mondello on May 6 and Mondello saying that he expressed concern about the visit of Venezuelan vice president Delcy Rodriguez and the consistency with TT’s obligations as party to the Rio Treaty, which appeared to contradict a previous statement by Young in Parliament that no breach of any treaty was discussed.
Kangaloo said: “I have carefully reviewed this matter. It is important to understand the chronology of events that led to this issue being raised by Senator Mark.”
She recalled Mark in raising a matter on the adjournment on May 19 made extensive reference to Mondello’s release and Young, in responding to the matter raised by Senator Mark, used the opportunity to explain his earlier response given on May 13.
“The minister also unequivocally stated in clarifying his response that he had no intention to mislead the House.”
She said it is well recognised that one of the key ingredients to be established when it is alleged that a member is in contempt on the grounds of misleading the House, is that is must be established that the member making the statement knew at the time the statement was made that it was incorrect and that in making it the member intended to mislead the House.
She noted Speaker Gary Carr of the legislative assembly of Ontario said: “The threshold for finding a prima facie case for contempt against a member of the legislature deliberately misleading the House is therefore set quite high and is very uncommon. It must involve an approved finding of an overt attempt to intentionally mislead the legislature. In the absence of an admission of the member accused of the conduct or of tangible confirmation of the conduct independently proved, a speaker must assume that no honourable member would engage in such behaviour.”
She said the minister, having been provided with the opportunity by Mark to elucidate on his previous statements made on May 13, demonstrated via his response on May 19 that there was no intention to mislead or deceive the House.
“There as also no tangible, independently proved confirmation that it was the minister’s intention to deliberately mislead the House. Therefore I rule that there is no prima facie basis to support a question of privilege.”