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Friday will not accept nomination for Deputy Speaker – Arnhim Eustace

Friday will not accept nomination for Deputy Speaker – Arnhim Eustace


Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace has rejected the offer by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, that Dr Lorraine Friday be made Deputy Speaker.{{more}}

It is therefore now likely that newly appointed senator Jomo Thomas will be nominated for the post, when the House meets on Thursday.

On the New Times programme on Nice Radio yesterday, the Opposition Leader said the Prime Minister had called him earlier that morning, and proposed that Friday, who is vice president of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), fill the position of Deputy Speaker, which had been left vacant when government Senator David Browne demitted office last month.

Gonsalves also announced yesterday, during a swearing in ceremony for new senators at Government House, that he had called Eustace and made the recommendation. He said that while he agreed that the gesture should have been made a long time ago, “every idea has its own time.”

The Prime Minister however said that if his recommendation is not accepted, newly appointed senator Jomo Thomas has agreed to accept nomination to the position.

“….We know that the Opposition has been critical… of the current speaker in the handling of that House. Clearly, if you have someone, if Dr Friday accepts the proposal, you will have an opportunity to show how it is being done or how it ought to be done,” Gonsalves said yesterday.

Eustace, however, seemed not to be impressed with Gonsalves offer.

“I listened to him very carefully and he gave all the reasons why Dr Friday, in his view, should be the deputy speaker, including his competence and his knowledge of the rules and so forth.

“I told him that is not his decision to make, that is not his business, that is the business of the New Democratic Party,” Eustace said.

“Dr Friday would not be accepting any such nomination, let me make it absolutely clear.

“Anyone we wish to have as deputy speaker, we will decide who goes forward.

“He (Gonsalves) is not the president of the New Democratic Party, he is the president of the ULP (Unity Labour Party) and he is not making any decisions on our behalf, or even recommendation.”

Eustace said Gonsalves told him that he had made the recommendation because he wanted to see a greater sense of inclusiveness in the House, but Eustace said he told him this inclusiveness should have been considered a long time ago.

“When the Parliament elected a deputy speaker in 2010, there were no such talk of inclusiveness. When 600 odd people were sent home a few months after he got into office, there was no talk of inclusiveness. When NDP people were taken off the public assistance roll, there was no talk of inclusion.

“Its always ‘the government is ours, we own the government’, that was the kind of language; now you telling me about inclusiveness.

“In this country, you can’t be inclusive 10 per cent of the time and exclusive 90 per cent of the time, you have to show a track record of inclusiveness, if you want to be taken seriously in matters of this sort, and Gonsalves has no such track record, so I want to make it very clear to the public that the New Democratic Party is not interested in that master stroke,” Eustace stressed.

Yesterday morning, commentators on the ULP-owned star radio had described the move to recommend Friday as deputy speaker as “a master stroke”.

Eustace said that the determination of who would be nominated as deputy speaker is a decision that he and his colleagues would make, and rejected the notion that Gonsalves’ recommendation was anywhere near effective, as proclaimed by radio commentators.

“Well, his master stroke is the same as the one he made to the Bank (National Commercial Bank), which left us with a debt of one hundred million dollars to repay; that is the same master stroke he is doing now.

“In any case, the deputy speaker hardly has anything to say in Parliament; is only if the Speaker goes outside for a while…. If the deputy speaker spends two hours conducting the Parliament in a year is plenty… so that’s such a huge issue to call master stroke? That’s idiocy.”

Eustace said he would like to see the Government dealing with more important national matters, and not matters of the New Democratic Party.

These include the high unemployment rate, VAT and air travel, he said.

“We have all these pressing problems before us; instead of dealing with them, we going in the margin and talking foolishness,” the Leader of the Opposition said.