Tuesday, 21 August 2012 02:31
By caribarena news
Antigua St. John's - Leader of the opposition Lester Bird said authorities did not breach the Antigua & Barbuda Constitution by not having Governor General Dame Louise Lake-Tack play a role in the opening of the OECS Assembly.
And he said the removal of items of national significance from the parliamentary chambers to facilitate the sitting was not a faux pas.
In fact, Bird, the Leader of the Opposition, has suggested that the governor general erred by claiming she was disrespected by her exclusion and her insistence that the national items should not have been removed.
"I think it's much to do about nothing," he told Caribarena, while giving full support to the position taken by Speaker of the House D. Gisele Isaac-Arrindel.
The House Speaker is adamant that Parliament can be held at any location once the Mace is present.
Bird recalled that when he entered Parliament as a senator in 1971 he attended sittings at numerous locations, including on Long Street, Michael's Mount, and in the building now tagged as the House of Culture on Parliament Drive.
"We have moved around," he said. "The important thing is that once the proclamation is made that you are going to have the Parliament in a particular place then that is what is required. You can have Parliament under a tree."
The opposition leader said the national items were removed from the chamber because representatives of Dominica - a member of the OECS - would not have been able to take part in the ceremony since the country is a republic and does not recognise the Queen.
"I think once the mace was removed then that in fact allowed them to have the Assembly. The Assembly is a very important step forward for the OECS and I support the position of Gisele Isaac," the elder statesman said.
"The fact that the flag was temporarily removed does not change the status of Antigua. I think she (the governor general) is wrong quite frankly and was just peeved that she was not given a role to play. I don't have a fundamental problem with what has been done."
Bird suggested that some of the contentious issues could have been avoided if Parliament had passed a resolution outlining what was going to happen.
"That might have been the better way. As Comrade Joseph said it was done in a sloppy manner."
The opposition leader was referencing concerns expressed by St. Mary's North representative Molwyn Joseph about the manner in which the Assembly was organised.
Political commentator Arvel Grant also disagrees with the position taken by the governor general.
He surmised that she appears anxious about the fact that Antigua & Barbuda and other Eastern Caribbean states are moving towards getting rid of the vestiges of a colonial power.
"I think that she perhaps may want to review her position because in our parliamentary set-up the people are supreme and the supremacy of the people is a well established tradition in our kind of democracy," he said.
"I hope she steps back from it because if she remains as strident then she's in a head-on collision with the people and in this matter the people win.”
Grant said the decision by the Queen's representative to call in to a talk show programme completely breached normal protocol.
He surmised that the decision places her in a position where her opinion, whether they are constitutionally correct or not, is part of a global record for which she has no way of backing away from gracefully.
"The Queen and her preservation as part of contemporary Caribbean civilisation is well on the way to becoming something of the past," he said.
Grant said further that the opinion of the Queen's representative seems so sharply in contradiction to the dictates of the Constitution.
"Any sitting government elected by the people who finds itself being rebuked in such a loud and vociferous way by a representative of the Queen needs to consider if that individual is in the best industry of the government of the day. Ultimately I have a feeling that Her Excellency may well be deciding that her role in the present set-up is no longer something she wishes to sustain," he added.