Angry AG defends wife in Senate

Reginald Armour -
Reginald Armour -

AN angry Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, defended his wife, Industrial Court member Elizabeth Solomon, in the Senate on Tuesday against remarks on her professional roles earlier  by Opposition Senator Wade Mark.

“Do not call my wife’s name!” stormed Armour, as he wound up debate on the Arbitration (Amendment) Bill 2023.

It all began when Mark alleged that Armour, in earlier piloting the bill ,had breached Parliament’s standing orders by allegedly failing to declare an interest, saying Armour had a past or current link to a company involved in arbitration, Dialogue Solutions Ltd. He also mentioned Solomon.

Armour in return solemnly said, “Mr President, I am an optimistic, positively-minded person and I am loath ever to rise unless I am given good cause to rise to take objection to anything that is available to be said by any of our citizenry in the freedom of speech which we are blessed to express in this country, and particularly protected in this hallowed hall in exercising.”

However, he said standing order 46(8) said the conduct of judges was not to be raised in Parliament except on a substantive motion.

Armour said, “I want to go on record to say I abhor the irresponsible and dangerous comments of Senator Mark today.

“Leave my wife out of it! Do not call my wife’s name as a judge of the Industrial Court of Trinidad and Tobago in this chamber in your political gayelle!

“Mr President, I beg to move. Thank you very much.”

Earlier Mark asked why Armour had not declared his interest in the company, saying that was a contempt of the Senate under standing order 42(5).

This rule says, “Before participating in consideration of any item of business in the Senate in which he has a financial interest, a member should disclose the extent of that interest.”

Mark said, “Mr Vice President, I have evidence that I am standing by. You could take me to the Privileges Committee, because I have it. I have evidence to show where our AG, who piloted this bill, was the chairman of a company called Dialogue Solutions.”

Culture Minister Randall Mitchell interrupted to say obviously Armour had an interest in arbitration as an aspect of the practice of law.

Mark shouted, “I was shocked when I saw the membership of directors of this board!

“I’m prepared for any member to take me to the Committee of Privileges! Because I have the evidence here!”

Mark said, “I think I’ve said enough on this matter to allow the AG, when he is winding up, to make a confession.”

Mitchell, in his contribution, accused Mark of confusing two different legal organisations, regarding an unnamed document which Mark said cited an unnamed organisation helping to draft TT’s arbitration policy in 2019.

“What Senator Mark did very, very dangerously, was to conflate Dialogue Solutions Ltd with the Dispute Resolution Centre.”

Mitchell said it was the latter which had provided draft policies to improve arbitration. Mitchell named about 12 people who he said comprised the Dispute Resolution Centre including a representative of each of the Ministry of the Attorney General, Office of Chief Parliament Counsel and Law Reform Commission, a retired judge, senior counsel, plus Solomon and Senator Anthony Vieira.

“These are the persons who put forward a draft policy to the Government of TT for the improvement of arbitration proceedings.”

This policy included adopted UN draft model legislation, he said.

“But Senator Mark comes here and conflates these two institutions – the company and the Dispute Resolution Centre – to scandalise the Attorney General.

“I shame. I know it’s election season, but some matters should be beneath us in this chamber.”

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