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Senator Frederick speaks on CWP invite

Senator Frederick speaks on CWP invite

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Opposition Senator Vynnette Frederick says that she is of the opinion that the staff at the House of Parliament was only doing its job in forwarding to her an invitation{{more}} for a female member of the House to attend the 4th Women’s Regional Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentarians in Grenada last month.

Frederick was commenting on the decision that was taken to withdraw her as the local representative to attend the two-day conference.

The invitation to the Opposition Senator was withdrawn shortly after it was claimed by a radio talk show host that the invitation to attend the conference was sent to her without the knowledge and consent of the Speaker of the House, Hendrick Alexander, who is the President of the local Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA).

Frederick contends that she was informed that she would no longer be attending the conference only after her selection became public knowledge and was made an issue.

But Frederick maintains that the issue was made political and that the decision for her to attend was not one for the Speaker of the House.

“The invitation was sent to me to participate,” the senator told SEARCHLIGHT, adding that the entire trip and accommodation was to be paid for by the regional Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP).

She added that all communication came on behalf of the House, and that based on the initial piece of correspondence, there was a request for the attendance of one of the newest members of the House.

A copy of the e-mail sent to Frederick and Senator Anesia Baptiste from the Deputy Clerk of the House of Assembly on June 2 was made available to SEARCHLIGHT.

It stated: “The conference is desirous of having representation from new members, however one place is available. If there is any interest please decide on a nominee and alert this office as soon as possible.”

Senator Baptiste declined the invitation, which was communicated on June 3. However, Frederick, on June 6, responded to the Deputy Clerk indicating that she would be attending.

Subsequently, several emails were exchanged between Frederick and the Deputy Clerk of the House, including the information that Frederick said she was asked to submit.

Up to this point, there was no indication that there was anything wrong, Frederick said, except on June 8 when an e-mail was sent to Frederick indicating that there were a few errors on the ‘Acceptance of Invitation’ form.

The issue of the Speaker’s lack of involvement in the selection process was made public on one of the morning radio talk shows.

This, according to Frederick, prompted her to send an e-mail on June 22 to the Deputy Clerk for an update on the process.

A response from the Deputy Clerk via e-mail was sent on June 23 stating “There was an issue being worked out in regards to the eligibility of the candidate to attend the conference, hence all arrangements had been put on hold. It was brought to the Speaker’s attention that the sessions were not aimed at parliamentarians who had not previously been to one of these conferences. The organizer of the event has issued the working programme and its aims differ fundamentally to what was previously supposed. Approval therefore cannot be granted for the proposed delegate from St Vincent.”

An unsigned letter dated June 22 from the office of the Department of the Clerk of the House was subsequently sent to Frederick saying that “In light of recent information conveyed to this office regarding the attendance of a delegate to the CWP meeting in Grenada for the 25th and 26th June 2011, the previous nomination of Senator V Frederick had to be re-assessed and was turned down.”

The letter further stated that in the assessment of the interest of Senators Baptiste and Frederick to attend this conference, the Department of the Clerk of the House of Assembly had been operating under the belief that there was a request for new and younger members.

It further stated that it was with that understanding that the correspondence between the department and the hosts of the event had taken place and that the final approval for a candidate to attend the conference was still pending from the Speaker.

“However due to the fact that it has been recognized that the programme as it has now been fully drafted would be more applicable to a senior female Member of Parliament, the department acknowledges that Senator Frederick will not fit the eligibility criteria set out,” the letter said.

When SEARCHLIGHT contaced Speaker Hendrick Alexander on June 15, shortly after Frederick’s proposed attendance at the conference was made public, he said he was not prepared to make a comment on the matter. He indicated that he did not know how the information had leaked out, but said he would be dealing with the matter internally.(DD)

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