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The intent to quash the NDP’s No-confidence motion: another Machiavellian tactic in the making

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by S. Y. Margaret London Tue, Mar 27. 2012

It is said that the NDP plans to move a motion of No-confidence in the Government at the next sitting of Parliament. Following statements made by the Leader of the Opposition regarding the period when motions of no confidence can be moved, the Prime Minister threatened to amend the NDP’s motion.{{more}} Suffice it to say, that ignorance of what the Constitution says regarding motions of no confidence, can in any way be compared to the voting of the Attorney General in the House on December 29th 2010. So, while we feel the urge to castigate the Leader of the Opposition for his perceived ignorance, we should be doing the same to all who witnessed the voting of the Attorney General (and while we speak, the Speaker is yet to make a ruling on that matter).

Let us now go back to the issue at hand. The Constitution of SVG gives the Opposition party the right to move a motion of “No confidence” in the Government —- it never gave the ruling party the right to put obstacles in the way of debating the motion, as was the case in Trinidad last month. Suffice it to say that what happened in Trinidad was a matter of “tit-for-tat”, for the Patrick Manning administration amended motions of no confidence brought against the PNM.

If the ULP thinks they are doing well – they ought to put forward arguments to support such a claim. It is time for us to give a profound meaning to GOOD GOVERNANCE. The Government is thus accountable to the citizenry and, under our representative democracy, they are accountable to the opposition and not the other way around.

Though motions can be amended, this should NEVER happen in the case of the no confidence motion. The ULP is attempting to use a “Machiavellian” manoeuvre essentially to frustrate the process. Of interest, the ULP moved several motions of no-confidence against the NDP and never once did the NDP frustrate the process.

One gets the impression that we are operating in a court of law, where legal manoeuvres can be used to quash criminal proceedings; but yet still, the power of quashing criminal proceedings has to be exercised very sparingly and with circumspection and that too in the rarest of rare cases. Same holds for a motion of no-confidence.

The reliability or genuineness or otherwise of allegations against the Government should be determined not by the ruling party in the manner that they are threatening and are known to do. For how can we forget that in 2004, the motion on the Tobago Cays was not amended, but what we had was a separate and distinct motion. The ways in which motions can be amended need not detain us. The allegations are not absurd and inherently improbable so that a prudent person cannot reach a conclusion. The allegations are grounded in truth and point to negligence. There is sufficient supporting evidence to substantiate the claims against the ULP.

If we are to genuinely look at this from a legal perspective, the matter has way surpassed the full code test. The evidence is incriminating, especially the disconnection of telephone service to essential departments of government, such as police stations and health care. What is even worse is the irresponsible act of the Prime Minister confessing that he laughed at such an incident. How could one laugh at something that made many hold their heads in shame and disgust and cry.

The current and constant threat of the RULE of law is a crime that the ULP is guilty of as charged — lest we forget the amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code that was passed in the House last year, while the world slept.

It is also in the public interest that the matter be vented. There is no need to panic, for the Government already has the majority and parliamentarians usually vote along party lines, unlike in Barbados in 1994 when Erskine Sandiford lost a vote of no-confidence, or in 1979 when then British Prime Minister James Callaghan was defeated in a no confidence motion.

The Constitution and the Standing Orders of the House are devices to advance justice, good governance and democracy and not to frustrate them. Mr Speaker due care and caution should to be exercised in allowing the motion to be EXPURGATED. This is customary in the legal system where a criminal lawyer may ask the Judge to quash a motion made by the prosecution. In this case, it is in the public’s interest that this motion be fully debated. In this era of “GOOD GOVERNANCE” the Government is responsible for accounting to citizens.

The extraordinary and inherent powers of the Speaker / Parliament do not confer an arbitrary authority on the House to act according to its whims or caprice. However, Parliament, under its inherent powers, should not “soft-pedal” the course of our democracy ‘at such a crucial stage in our ennobled Caribbean civilization. Mr. Speaker the ULP should NEVER be allowed to nullify the NDP’s motion!!!!

Who has confidence in the NDP?

I have read with interest the article by Mr Jerrol Thompson. However, time and space does not permit me to look at the arguments he has put forward on an individual basis.

But, Jerrol, my friend, the ULP has lost confidence in the Government. The SVG Teachers’ Union has lost confidence in the Government for not honouring the agreement that they signed. That in itself is quite ironic; for here it is that the Government is seen as a “TRUCE-BREAKER” which Timothy declared will be a sign of the last days. The Prime Minister, as if by divine intervention, reminded us of a poem THE SECOND COMING by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939). Sadly he never told us of the shape that has the body of a lion and the face of a man, which is indicative of the second coming, which Yeats wrote about in that poem.

Jerrol a very high percentage of Vincentians have lost confidence in the Government —— FEAR STALKS THE LAND now more than ever. All that was predicted when that article was first written in 1989 are now coming to pass. Oh Jerrol, we have “regressed severely in our norms and values” SO:

o To re-instate our norms and values —— the ULP has to go

o To end corruption in the public service — the ULP has to go

o To end impunity in SVG —- the ULP has to go

o To regain integrity in Parliament —- the ULP has to go

o To redress Vincentians who were conned into believing in a fake form of good governance —— the ULP has to go

o To restore the RULE OF LAW in SVG —— the ULP has to go

o To erase the fear that is stalking SVG —- the ULP has to go

The people have lost confidence in the ULP — so jump high, jump low, the ULP has to go!!!!!

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