National Security Minister Stuart Young was put out of the Parliament Chamber yesterday for refusing to withdraw his accusation that UNC MPs were making “racist” remarks during deliberations.
UNC MP Dave Tancoo also slammed Young for calling him “boy”.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert also received repeated reprimands in Parliament when he continuously “buffed” UNC MPs on Tobago issues.
The squalor took place during yesterday’s Standing Finance Committee (SFC) meeting where UNC MPs grilled Government on 2021 allocation sums for the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) – and Imbert, Young and ministers went hardline in replying.
SFC chairman, House Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George was so taxed by the number of reprimands she had to give, mainly to Minister Young, that she ordered a very brief time-out halfway through the meeting.
“Too much sugar! Maybe we all had a very good breakfast,“ Annisette –George said noting sugar issues spike with carbs.
Imbert was the first one to get riled by UNC probing, particularly from heavy questioning by the UNC’s Ravi Ratiram who queried differences in sums for a range of expenditure from programmes to employment. Imbert backhanded Ratiram’s queries on increased expenses for THA headcounts. Imbert insisted the figures were the same for all the years Ratiram queried.
Ratiram also asked if certain sums were increased for hiring due to upcoming THA elections.
Annisette-George had to ask the complaining Imbert to give Ratiram the opportunity to make his point to which Imbert could reply.
Young raised the issue of interference by Government in THA matters, saying it wasn’t for THA to tell Central Government how many workers it has. He went all the way back to Tobago’s Milshiv (land) matter when he said the UNC didn’t want to take calls on that issue.
UNC’s Anita Haynes explained UNC wasn’t seeking to cause interference, but it was a matter of accountability.
Young countered that she’d twisted his words. He also took offence to a comment by another UNC MP that Imbert “didn’t know how many posts there are.”
Visibly upset Young fumed that UNC MPs didn’t correctly say his “POS North St Ann’s West” designation.
Annisette-George asked him to regain his composure and advised MPs to exercise tolerance and respect each other—the first of her many (futile) appeals for this.
Minutes later Imbert was back to “busting” Ratiram’s query on a $100,000 expenditure for THA entertainment.
Imbert retorted, “That ($100,000) was 0.5 per cent of what the Opposition Leader spent on entertainment.”
At another point Imbert told Ratitram “please pay attention” on certain figures, to which Ratiram advised him to pay attention to the figures in Budget document.
“Please reboot! Everybody reboot so we could go forward,” Annisette- George appealed.
Ratiram then chuckled, muttering an aside with the words “Port-of-Spain North….Laventille” among them.
Immediately after the UNCs Tancoo told Annisette-George that Young had just leaned across and suggested that “racist comments are being made by people on this (UNC) side.”
The UNC’s Kadijah Ameen added loudly, “He said racist! He said it twice!”
Tancoo repeated, “The (POS North) MPs on two occasions thus far leaned across and indicated MPs on this side were making ‘racist’ statement, we are ‘racists’.”
PNM MPs started yelling and Tancoo pointed out Young.
Annisette–George asked Young to withdraw what he‘d said, if indeed he’d said such a thing.
Young asked, “ Withdraw saying what they are?!”
He refused and Annisette-George cautioned Young, adding, “Take a little walk and reboot yourself.”
“And I don’t need support from anyone,” she added as UNC MPs vigorously desk-thumped approval of her order.
Young left the chamber, appearing to mutter and didn’t respond to query. From there, Imbert and others returned to collecting Annisette-George’s warnings.
Young calls Tancoo “boy”
The UNC’s Tancoo told reporters Young also used the term “boy” aimed at him. Young was looking at Tancoo when he made the comment about “racists” and when Tancoo called him out on it, he repeated it, including the term “boy.”
Tancoo added, “I will not be intimidated by Stuart Young and his rantings, his race baiting or his divisive attacks. His vile comments weren’t just aimed at me personally, but against the integrity of our Parliament and our nation’s harmony.”
“The diverse citizenry we represent across T&T will no longer be fragmented by Mr Young’s utilisation of colonial-era “divide and conquer” strategies. It’s disgraceful this Minister continues to head, arguably, one of the more powerful ministries in this country, and it’s extremely disturbing he’d engage in such conduct.”
“The National Security Minister does this nation a grave disservice by attempting to provoke such malice—the nation must see him for who he is and condemn his odious posturing.”
Minister Stuart Young issued the following statement in response to what transpired during the sitting.
“The UNC opposition has consistently and intentionally wrongly referred to the constituency of Port of Spain North/St Ann’s West and the two Laventille/ Morvant constituencies.
The UNC members do this intentionally, as at a bare minimum, the name plates of constituencies are placed clearly in front of members’ seats for correct reference.
In the recent general elections the UNC had posters for their candidate for Port of Spain North/ St Ann’s West circulating with the wrong constituency name showing their clear disdain and disrespect for the constituency.
As the elected member of parliament for Port of Spain North/ St Ann’s West I will not permit the UNC opposition to disrespect my constituents.
Today in the parliament, the UNC members continued with this disgusting behaviour and I called them out on it. I will continue, without fear, to call out the UNC and their disrespectful treatment of the constituents of Port of Spain, Laventille and Morvant.”