From left: Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace, PM Ralph Gonsalves, Sen. Linton Lewis. (IWN montage)

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves on Wednesday said Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace, disowned Sen. Linton Lewis, the Opposition’s main spokesperson on the Proceeds of Crime Bill, 2013, during the debate of the legislation on Wednesday.

“I had a ringside seat for an amazing occurrence yesterday in Parliament,” Gonsalves said on radio.

He noted that next February will be 20 years since he is an MP, adding that he has been observing Parliament for many years before then.

“And I have never seen in our Parliament a spokesperson for any party on a bill, in this case, the opposition, where the Leader of the Opposition so utterly disowned his major spokesperson. And he did so rightly. Arnhim Eustace did not act incorrectly yesterday. He acted properly, he acted rightly in the nation’s interest,” Gonsalves said.

He was referring to Eustace having addressed Parliament during the debate — which he said he did not plan to do — then later voting “aye”, even as Lewis, a lawyer, expressed concerns about a section of the Bill.

Gonsalves said that Lewis was a member of the select committee on the Bill, but did no attend many of the meetings. He, however, added that Lewis’ absences might have been for legitimate reasons.

On Monday, Eustace said he didn’t anticipate the debate on the Bill that day and Lewis, said he would be better prepared on Tuesday, Gonsalves said.

Gonsalves, who is also a lawyer, said he shared with Lewis a brief a consultant had done on the Bill, which consolidated amendments to the anti-money laundering laws passed in 2001.

Gonsalves, who introduced the bill, also explained what it is about.

He said that in response, Lewis gave a long justification for how the nation’s laws regarding the offshore sector and money laundering had functioned up to 2001, when Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party government first came to office.

The Prime Minister said that Lewis was attempting to show why, in his view, the external authorities didn’t have any basis on which to blacklist this country.

He said Lewis used the first half of his presentation on explaining this — “with his self justification and jaundiced history” — then went on to discuss the section of the bill that deals with civil recovery.

“And, as [is] often [the case] with Dr. Lewis, he gets himself confused with his own words and began to say things which were quite incorrect,” Gonsalves said, adding that he then go up and asked Lewis to give way and further asked about the sections to which Lewis was referring.

“Through all of this, the Leader of the Opposition was obviously discerning what I was saying, both in my original presentation and in my attempts to clarify some things when Linton was speaking.

“And he got up and he said something remarkable,” Gonsalves said.

He further said that Eustace told the House that he did not intend to speak on this Bill, and in fact was not speaking on the Bill, but that the way he votes would depend on the answers that the Prime Minister gives to some of the queries raised by Lewis.

“Linton was confusing so many things and he was making assertions of things which were plain wrong and some things he was saying were not in the Bill, were in fact in the Bill,” Gonsalves said.

“After I had given all the explanation in my wrap-up, … when the Speaker asked for the ‘ayes’, … in unison, Mr Eustace’s voice was with mine, saying yes, ‘aye’. Linton Lewis didn’t vote ‘aye’ or ‘nay’,” Gonsalves said.

“Now, this was a lead spokesperson on a Bill being disowned by his leader on the floor of the House. It was extraordinary,” Gonsalves said.

“What was of real significance was the slap down. It was done beautifully and in this case, I will say that Mr. Eustace acted correctly and in the nation’s interest. Now, what would flow from this in terms of the political consequence for Linton Lewis is another matter. That’s for them and for the people of East St. George to be making judgments in that regard,” he further said.

Lewis is the Opposition New Democratic Party’s candidate for East St. George for the next general elections, constitutionally due in December 2015.

Gonsalves said many people think Parliament is about “a lot of old talk and bramble and picong (teasing or satirical banter) ”but noted that he warns new MPs “Parliament is a very cruel place.

“… You may joke, because we are a Caribbean people; you may have your cross-talk, because we are in a competitive political environment, that’s fine, but it is not the law court, it is not a place to try to showoff, specially when you are not prepared.

“It is not a place to go unprepared, particularly now when it is live on a TV channel and two radio stations and so many journalists are following.

‘please prepare yourself’

Gonsalves had some advice for more recently MPs.

“Please prepare yourself, approach your work seriously, but with humility, don’t believe that you are too big to learn, accept correction, gracefully concede when you have to, and move on. People are watching.

“And that yesterday was a lesson of the way in which a leader will disown you, if you don’t follow the basic tenets,” Gonsalves said.

The Bill was passed with Opposition support.

5 replies on “Gonsalves says Eustace disowned Sen. Lewis during debate on Bill”

  1. Urlan Alexander says:

    I am truly amazed at the character we have n parade as PM. I for one is not surprised at the way he twisted the outcome of the parliament for his liking. He was given a proper schooling Dr. Linton Lewis in the parliament on Wednesday during the discussion of the bill in question. Such was Linton teachings that the PM could have hardly respond in the positive but choose instead to use “old talks picong and bramble’ as he say to try and play down the scholarly presentation of Dr Lewis.
    To add insult to injury he wants to conjure up a political callaloo between the NDP leader and Dr Lewis out of nothing. The PM knew before hand that the bill will get the opposition support so to appear as if the support was done base on his (PM) closing argument is far away from the truth. The opposition knew that the Opposition had some concerns that will be addressed and highlighted by Dr Lewis, a more qualified lawyer that the PM in this regard.
    Interestingly he choose to bring East St George into the mix of all of this simply because the PM is trying to make a way for his son to be given that seat on a platter. it wont work this way or this time at all. He could sing like a canary at all the karaoke put on by the ULP but he will not be voted into office by the people of East ST. George.
    It seems the PM is always playing himself into the hands of journalists who seem to glee in publishing his well orchestrated point of views. I hope when he presents his well padded-overload- unachievable estimates and budget in a few days and few weeks time the analysis will be critical and get the media attention as well.

  2. Urlan Alexander says:

    I am truly amazed at the character we have n parade as PM. I for one is not surprised at the way he twisted the outcome of the parliament for his liking. He was given a proper schooling Dr. Linton Lewis in the parliament on Wednesday during the discussion of the bill in question. Such was Linton teachings that the PM could have hardly respond in the positive but choose instead to use “old talks picong and bramble’ as he say to try and play down the scholarly presentation of Dr Lewis.
    To add insult to injury he wants to conjure up a political callaloo between the NDP leader and Dr Lewis out of nothing. The PM knew before hand that the bill will get the opposition support so to appear as if the support was done base on his (PM) closing argument is far away from the truth. The PM knew that the Opposition had some concerns that will be addressed and highlighted by Dr Lewis, a more qualified lawyer that the PM in this regard.
    Interestingly he choose to bring East St George into the mix of all of this simply because the PM is trying to make a way for his son to be given that seat on a platter. it wont work this way or this time at all. He could sing like a canary at all the karaoke put on by the ULP but he will not be voted into office by the people of East ST. George.
    It seems the PM is always playing himself into the hands of journalists who seem to glee in publishing his well orchestrated point of views. I hope when he presents his well padded-overload- unachievable estimates and budget in a few days and few weeks time the analysis will be critical and get the media attention as well.

  3. Plain and simple mischief making, it’s really obvious to me that Gonsalves fears the superior inteligence of the Honourable Linton Lewis, a man with a law doctorate.

    I suppose it can be threatening to Gonsalves to be up against what many may believe a superior mind.

    I find this kind of destructive behaviour and utterances a pattern by Gonsalves in making such remarks about not just Lewis, but anyone who he sees as a threat.

  4. I can understand what Gonsalves is trying to do here, in trying to incite some sort of discord within the NDP ranks; but while trying to play devils advocate,he is elevating Mr Eustace status as a TRUE LEADER AND ONE CAPABLE OF PUTTING THE COUNTRY’S INTEREST BEFORE PARTY INTEREST as so indicated by Gonsalves himself.

    After all the scathing attack from Gonsalves and the ULP minnions on Eustace leadership abilities, these are indeed stunning comments in praising Eustace as a LEADER…what next, candle light dinner?

    R.I.P MADIBA.

    “Amandla Ngawethu!”

  5. And that’s a real Law degree, anything else is second or third class degree in comparison.

    I would like to say we understand the childish response by Wun-Phatt-Pratt, but I cannot honestly say that I do.

    Personally, I consider it a regurgitated helping of spite, malice and hatred. Just plainly a dick, trying to be … clever …, but failing abysmally

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