Opposition heads to court over Deputy Speaker issue

Opposition heads to court over Deputy Speaker issue

The opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) is heading to court over the issue of the non-appointment of a Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, SLP leader, Philip J. Pierre has said.

Pierre recalled that the opposition did not nominate anyone to the position.

He told reporters that the government has a majority in the house and appointments of a Deputy Speaker have always been made from the government side.

Pierre accused the Allen Chastanet led administration of wanting to make every government  MP a minister.

“There is no back bench – it is actually a shame for our parliament not to have any back bench in that every parliamentarian is a minister,” he asserted, adding that the opposition feels that the government should choose one of its own to fill the Deputy Speaker position as former Prime Ministers, Sir John Compton, Doctor Kenny Anthony and Stephenson King did.

The Castries East MP said if the government refuses to yield, the SLP will be taking the matter to court.

“It is already in the hands of our legal people, but as you know the wheels of justice grind slowly so we have been very patient,” Pierre stated.

However he made it clear that the opposition will not be nominating anyone to be Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly.

“The matter will be going  to court,” Pierre said.

Last year the government and the opposition traded accusations over the issue of the non-appointment of a Deputy Speaker.

When a new session of parliament convened  no nominations were forthcoming even though House Speaker, Leonne Theodore-John, issued three invitations.

Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, proposed a ten minute adjournment to confer with the leader of the opposition.

When the house reconvened, Castries Central MP, Sarah Flood-Beaubrun was nominated and elected.

However Flood-Beaubrun  subsequently resigned the position to take up an appointment as Minister  in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Growth, Job Creation, External Affairs and the Public Service effective Monday, July 25, 2016, leaving the post of Deputy Speaker vacant.

Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, said at the time that the language that is used in the constitution for the Deputy Speaker notes that if the Deputy Speaker resigns, then a new Deputy Speaker shall be elected as soon as is convenient.

He said while a Deputy Speaker was required for the opening of parliament,  it was clear that the Deputy Speaker is not required for the government or the opposition to proceed.

 

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11 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    February 15, 2017 at 10:17 pm Reply

    I hope the lawyers for the SLP are able to show the Court that the Constitution IS NOT the relevant reference in this matter. In fact, the relevant document is the Standing Orders of the House. You see, the Constitution gave “birth” to the Standing Orders, that is why, on the cover of the Standing Orders, you will see ” Made under the Constitution Order of Saint Lucia”. Therefore, the Standing Orders are, collectively, the operational guide to business in the House. Indeed, the Constitution yields to the Standing Orders by saying that the directives of the Constitution insofar as House of Assembly matters are concerned, are subject to “the prescribed rules” of the House. In other words, the Constitution leaves the operational details of what happens in the House and how exactly it happens to the Standing Orders. One more thought : the word “convenient” in the Constitution refers to the timing of meetings of the House, since the Constitution cannot tell the House when to meet, except on the occasion of the FIRST meeting after a general election. Thereafter, Parliament meets at its convenience. It can even take a recess whenever it wishes, as is done in certain jurisdictions. Finally, if it is not “convenient” for the majority side to nominate a Deputy Speaker, can the leader of Government business explain to us the nature of the inconvenience and what steps he is taking to remove such an inconvenience. Can he also explain to us, how it is that it is not convenient for his majority side to nominate a Deputy Speaker, but they can ” second” the motion if it is made by the Opposition and, further, it can use its majority to make the Oppostion nominee win, since with their small number, the Opposition, by themselves, can NEVER prevail. How long do we have to wait to put our Parliament on a Constitutional footing?

  2. Nemiah
    February 15, 2017 at 10:38 pm Reply

    Lol yes Philip you at it again am not agains the appointment of deputy speaker but what does the constitution states?So my next question to u philip, on what basis you are taking the government to court? It sounds funny but I see u taking your elected members and also u to court Lmao.It’s not because a deputy speaker has always be appointed by the government side to think that the court will rule in your favor .It’s rather unfear that the opposition has an apportunity to uphold the constitution and the best thing you can do is take the government to court in the name of politics what a shame.smh

  3. Anonymous
    February 15, 2017 at 10:39 pm Reply

    Read the last paragraph again, and see how foolish this thought is. Imagine our Constitution telling us that we need a Deputy Speaker, just for fun, at the opening of Parliament, and once Parliament has been opened, that person can resign, perhaps even that same day, and the House can proceed without a Deputy for five years! Or is the Constitution saying that it is only possible for the Speaker to fall sick at the opening of Parliament, in which case he of she needs a Deputy, just for a few hours while the Throne Speech is being delivered, and that once the exercise has been completed, the Deputy can resign ? It seems that our Constitution is a big “pappy show”, if that is what it is telling us.
    And all the time, I thought that the election of a Deputy Speaker was Government’s way of guaranteeing continuity in the people’s business!

  4. Sad-But-True
    February 15, 2017 at 11:56 pm Reply

    See, Evil Chastanet will.never respect the Constitution because he is not a born Lucian. Same as he shows no respect to his former slaves who voted him into office. Well, Evil Chastanet will be forced to uphold the Supreme Law of this land.

    1. Anonymous
      February 16, 2017 at 7:11 pm Reply

      They will always be slaves

  5. Anonymous
    February 16, 2017 at 12:00 am Reply

    The phrase “as soon as convenient” is preceded by the word “shall” which, in constitutional terms, means “bound to happen”. No one trying to interpret the word ” convenient” can honestly say that the word means “when you want” or “when you feel like doing it”. And what about the little bit that says ” as soon as” ? Doesn’t this suggest that we have to get on with the task quickly? And if something is causing the inconvenience, shouldn’t we move as quickly as possible to redress the situation in order for the “shall” part of the instruction to become a reality. One last question, whose primary responsibility is it to facilitate the business of Government in the House, and what is the role of Her Majesty’ loyal Opposition ?

  6. Anonymous
    February 16, 2017 at 12:34 am Reply

    There is too much concentration on the Constitution and not enough on the Standing Orders of the House. All of the operations of the House are guided by the Standing Orders , which are an off-shoot of the Constitution. Take a look at the cover of the Standing Orders and you will see that it was made under the Saint Lucia Constitution Order. As such, the Constitution, while setting out the broad principles, defers to the Standing Orders on operational matters. In so doing, the Constitution provides a direction and says that such a direction is “subject to the prescribed rules of the House”. The prescribed rules of the House are the Standing Orders , and faithful adherence to these Orders can NEVER be unconstitutional. So the details of how you do anything in the House are enshrined in the Standing Orders, not in the Constitution.

  7. Sigh
    February 16, 2017 at 11:05 am Reply

    Air bair bon…. LUCIANS

  8. Anonymous
    February 16, 2017 at 1:17 pm Reply

    Put Philip j pierre has deputy speaker probably has nothing to do.

  9. Anonymous
    February 16, 2017 at 2:24 pm Reply

    Mr. Pierre cannot be the Deputy Speaker because he is the Leader of the Opposition. The Opposition in Parliament is expected to oppose Government initiatives that they believe will not be in the I terest of the people, and to give critical support to initiatives that have merit. Their decision to oppose or to support cannot be legislated. It is entirely up to them. On the other hand, if the majority wishes to have a Gvernment of National Unity, then they can approach the Opposition with a view to allocating certain portfolios and positions to the Members of the Opposition. But they cannot force the Opposition to take anything that the Opposition Members do not want. To do so would be to take advantage of the minority. And the laws expressly say that the Minority should not be taken advantage of by the Majority. Read it for yourself.

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