THE brouhaha between the government and the opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party, which had spilled into the general public, over the non-appointment of a Deputy Speaker for the Lower House of Assembly, has landed in court, where hopefully a decision will be made to finally put the matter to rest.
Surprisingly though, it is not the Labour Party that brought the matter to the stage at which it is at, despite the Party being the most vociferous of critics of the government’s refusal to appoint a deputy speaker.
Attorney-at-law and defender of human rights and freedoms here, Martinus Francois is the one spearheading the challenge. He, last Sunday, personally served Speaker of the Lower House of Assembly Andy Daniel with documents dealing with the constitutional motion he filed in a court of law over Parliament’s failure to appoint a deputy speaker.
The case will be heard today.
Daniel, just before Tuesday’s House meeting, confirmed being served by Francois.
“It means that now I am obligated to be in court,” Daniel said, further stating that Francois’ contention was that parliament should have had a deputy speaker in place by now, more than three years after winning the general elections.
Speaker Daniel noted that he did not believe the business of the House and that of the country should be suspended until such a time that the House believes there is need to appoint a deputy speaker.
Francois had been trying, rather unsuccessfully, to bring to court Parliament’s failure to appoint a deputy speaker. He hit a snag when he inappropriately served papers to Daniel’s secretary rather than to Daniel as head of the parliament.
Prior to that the motion filed by Martinus had named Attorney General Stephen Julien and Daniel, however counsel for Julien was successful in having Julien’s name removed from the motion noting that the Constitution made mention of parliament as the one obligated to elect a deputy speaker, not the executive branch of government.
The government and the Labour Party from 2016 had been sparring over the parliament’s non-appointment of a Deputy Speaker for the House, to the point that the latter promised to take the matter to court to seek further opinion.
Labour Party leader, Philip J Pierre had at the time claimed that convention dictated that the deputy speaker’s position must be filled by someone from the government side of the House, noting that deceased Sir John Compton understood that along with previous governments.
The United Workers Party, which forms the government, did respond to Pierre saying it was shameless of the Labour Party to take the matter to court.
The last Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly was Sarah Flood-Beaubrun. She was appointed at the first sitting of the House in July 2016. However two weeks later, she was removed from the post and made a Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Job Creation, Economic Growth and External Affairs.