Volney: I’ll defend Attorney General
Saturday, September 29 2012
Fired Justice Minister Herbert Volney wants to remain in Parliament, as the member for St Joseph, at least long enough to go up against Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley when he brings his motion of censure against Attorney General Anand Ramlogan in the Section 34 fiasco.
“The Leader of the Opposition has nothing on him (Ramlogan) with respect to Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Offences) Act. He has absolutely nothing,” Volney told Newsday yesterday by telephone.
“I certainly want to be in the House. I will be the first one to stand up and defend the Attorney General,” he said. On the changes made to Section 34 in the Senate, Volney said there were two positions. One position, he said, was voted on in the Lower House and the other which came from the Ministry of Justice was voted on in the Senate.
“The Senate voted for the option that came from the ministry — Independent Senators and Opposition Senators,” he said. Asked if he will be attending the People’s Partnership pre-budget rally at Mid Centre Mall, Chaguanas, today Volney said he was invited but he will not attend. “Why should I go when I was fired from the Cabinet?” he responded. Reminded that he was elected on a UNC ticket to Parliament, he said, “I was elected by the people on a UNC ticket. That is different from being selected to a position in Government.
“I will not vote against the UNC in Parliament as I am a UNC parliamentarian,” he said, “and I would not be subjected to the Chief Whip. I reserve the right to abstain if I do not agree with a position.”
Asked if he will be in Parliament for the budget debate, Volney said, “I expect my constituents would want me to be there.
They will decide and that is why I am meeting with constituents in Mt Lambert next Wednesday and in St Joseph on Thursday before the debate starts on Friday.”
After that he has scheduled meetings in Valsayn, Bamboo Village and Aranguez. Since he has been making plans to get the views of his constituents in Mt Lambert and St Joseph, he said others have been asking to have consultations with him on the very issue.
If the majority of the people want him to resign, he said, “I will. I’m on the ground and I have a feel of what the people are saying, and what they want me to do.”
Asked whether he has consulted with anyone in the UNC in relation to his activities, including the consultations, he said that party wise, “No one has contacted me as yet. As of now, I see no need to consult them. If and when they want to, they will contact me.”
Sharing his opinion with Newsday yesterday on the planned consultations, political scientist Professor Selwyn Ryan said, “Mr Volney is planning to stay on. He is hoping to get his constituents to beg him to stay. ”
He continued, “I see it as a strategy to legitimise a decision that he has already made, that he is in the business and will stay in the business, and not be drummed out of it by the Prime Minister’s decision to fire him.”
As far as he was concerned, Ryan said, “I think I know the outcome of that seeming conflict.”
Having had a taste of parliamentary experience, he said, “Mr Volney would prefer to stay, rather than make it appear that he is running from a fight.”
Asked whether he thinks Volney should resign or not, Ryan said, “I suspect, it is a decision one makes on economics, as well.”
On the question if Volney resigns and the UNC has to contest by-elections how the party would fare, Ryan said, “It is one the UNC would probably win on the basis of demographics, but it is not one I can be ceratin about as I haven’t looked at it recently.”
Asked the same questions, political scientist Dr Bishnu Ragoonath said consultations must not only be held when Volney or MPs found themselves in some difficulties.
“Consultations should be an ongoing process,” he said. “They must always have a feel of what their constituents think about them.”
Disagreeing with Volney initially limiting the consultations to two swing areas in the constituency, he said the consultations should be wider to include the heartland.
He added that, “while he should also consult with his constituents, he needs to consult with his party’s leadership to chart a course thereafter.”
Should Volney resign? Ragoonath said, “People should have a degree of professional ethics and act accordingly. If I am to find myself in such a situation, I would immediately offer my resignation. I cannot say that Mr Volney must do that.”
How will the UNC fare in by-elections should Volney resign, Ragoonath said, “given all that was in the media and that continue to play out in the public domain in relation to Section 34, to retain the seat which is deemed marginal, the UNC might find it difficult.”
The UNC, he said, “might have to consider seriously whether or not they want to ask for his resignation as an MP, or, to accept it if he offers it at this time.”