Kamla: Volney must resign as MP
By SEAN DOUGLAS Friday, September 13 2013
AFTER St Joseph MP Herbert Volney was ejected from the Lower House last Monday by Speaker Wade Mark under the “Crossing of the Floor” provisions of the Constitution, he should now resign as MP, said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday. She was talking to reporters after a laptop distribution ceremony at St James Secondary School.
Despite Volney’s defection from the UNC to the ILP, Persad-Bissessar said St Joseph constituency is still UNC, but could only be changed by a bye-election.
Urging Volney to resign as MP, she said it is an oxymoron for him to say he is representing the people of St Joseph when he should in fact go back and face that electorate in a fresh bye-election under a non-UNC banner. “You were elected on a UNC ticket. If the people say they no longer want a UNC representative, go back out there and let them choose whichever representative they want. I have no fear of the people,” said Persad-Bissessar.
“I’m of the respectful view that it is deceptive to go up on a party ticket and then become totally different, like a chameleon changing your colours. If that is so then that is your (Volney’s) democratic right, but it is the democratic right of the electorate to say, ‘yes, I want you’, ‘I want you’, ‘I want green’, ‘I want yellow’, ‘I want red’ — that’s the chameleon that changes the colours.”
She would not be drawn in when asked if Parliament should legislate to clarify the “Crossing of the Floor” provisions, saying the matter is in the Parliament’s hands and could become sub judice. She said she had done her constitutional duty to write to the Speaker, in whose hands the Volney case now lies.
Minister of the Environment, Ganga Singh, is the UNC caretaker for St Joseph constituency, she said, while the elected UNC MPs would handle constituency business in the House. “I have asked Minister Ganga Singh to be caretaker — not MP — but caretaker, to coordinate the St Joseph constituency.”
She said the UNC screening of local government candidates had gone very well up to midnight Wednesday, and was due to continue last night. “My team is meeting with the COP again this afternoon, and I advised them it was the prudent thing for us to compete on one ticket per corporation. So the negotiations now will be which corporations will be contested by the COP, NJAC or UNC.”
She was unfazed that the COP wants to stand in seven corporations, and said negotiations are continuing. “There will have to be a criteria and rationale for what basis the allocations are made. I think we are in it very amicably and we go forward united as a Partnership but selecting (candidates) to contest different corporations on different tickets.”
Had the People’s Partnership’s unity been derailed by recent criticisms of COP founder, Winston Dookeran, on Volney’s ejection and COP leader, Prakash Ramadhar, on the idea of land/property tax?
“I certainly have not been derailed. I do not believe anything has been derailed,” said Persad-Bissessar. “That is one of the beauties and benefits of a coalition — that we have divergent views and we come together on what we think will be in the best interest of the country at the end of the day. I have no difficulty with a different view from mine. The consensus at the end of the day will be the view that will prevail.”
She downplayed Ramadhar’s criticism of the Cabinet reshuffle. “The UNC is also not very happy with the results of the reshuffle. If there’s one thing in a democracy it is that we cannot please everybody every single time. The UNC also would have wanted more; what is interesting is that both the COP and the UNC got two Ministers each. How much fairer can you be?”
Does the recent find of a headless body mean new National Security Minister Gary Griffith has his work cut out? She said, “The Minister of National Security always has his work cut out, every single day. He has a lot of work to do and we expect him to get on the ball very soon.”
She said Griffith has met all heads of the protective services, and in the Budget debate today more would be said on the Government’s plans for crime-fighting. Asked about some criticisms of the Budget, she said you can’t please everyone always, and that many praises have also been made of the Budget such as at a recent Amcham forum.
How was she staying focussed and coping with the hectic politics of Parliament, the reshuffle and screenings? “So far I think I’m managing so to do, and today with God and prayers I think we can do it. It will not be the first time — extended sittings and meetings and so on and so far I have the strength. I think I’m looking quite well for it, if I may say so myself.”