KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Opposition lawmaker St. Clair Leacock says no one “scolds” him and that there will be “no letting up of the relationship” between him and House Speaker Hendrick Alexander in Parliament.
He was speaking at a New Democratic Party (NDP) press conference on Tuesday about a development in Parliament on Jan. 13 when Alexander asked him to withdraw a statement.
Leacock, in is contribution to the Budget Debate, said that Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves had said earlier that week he (Gonsalves) had fooled the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to access monies.
Government senator Julian Francis rose on a point of order and asked Leacock to withdraw the statement.
Gonsalves was not in Parliament at the time of Leacock’s comments and Francis told the Speaker, who first objected to Leacock’s comments, that the opposition lawmaker had misrepresented what Gonsalves said.
After some initial resistance, in which Leacock said that he was giving his interpretation of the Prime Minister’s comments, the Central Kingstown representative both rephrased and withdrew the statement.
SVGTV, in reportage of the development, said that Leacock was “scolded” in Parliament.
“I nearly didn’t get to speak in the Parliament the last time around. At 8 the night, when they thought I would speak they said they’re not having any other speeches because that is prime time; you can’t allow Major to speak, they closed down,” Leacock said referring to himself by his Cadet Force rank, and the name by which he is affectionately known.
“I came back 9 o’clock the next morning, I said that the Prime Minister, in his response to Mr. Eustace on the budget, in trying to defend the argument of negative growth, was setting out to fool the people when he said he only wrote the letter to the IMF saying that there was negative growth because he wanted to get the money.
“The Speaker threatened to throw me out and I must apologise — the Prime Minister never said he tried to fool the people,” Leacock said of the development.
He was speaking about Gonsalves comments during Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace’s response to the Budget.
Eustace was at the time reading a letter Gonsalves wrote to the IMF last year in an effort to access the Washington-based international financial institution’s Rapid Credit Facility (RCF).
“… ‘real GDP growth in 2011 is now expected to decline for a fourth consecutive year.’ Real GDP growth –” Eustace said as Gonsalves interjected “It’s expected but it didn’t happen.”
“It happened. Who you fooling with that? It happen,” Eustace said and Gonsalves responded, “And ah want the RCF money.”
“So what you’re suggesting? You fool them to get the money?” Eustace said.
“No. Ah just say ah want the RCF money,” Gonsalves responded.
“You heard the emphatic statement? He want the money,” Leacock said after playing at the press briefing on Tuesday an audio clip of the exchange in Parliament.
“That is what they [wanted to] throw me out the Parliament for saying, you know: that the Prime Minister never insinuated that he fooled them,” he further stated.
“But he admitted there and I hope you SVGTV features that. Because all you (SVGTV) can put the nonsense that they scold Leacock. Nobody scolds me. I am a big, grown man. I take responsibility for all of my action as a public figure. All of my action, I take responsibility for them,” Leacock said.
“Nobody scolds me. No speaker! He needs to be scolded and there will be no letting up of the relationship between him and I in the Parliament because I am the elected servant of the people in the Parliament until they decide otherwise. And he is there by other people’s tailcoat, not me. I am there because the people so choose me until they have me no more,” said Leacock who was elected to Parliament in December 2010.