Government MP, Camillo Gonsalves is questioning the decision of the Leader of the Opposition, Arnhim Eustace to appoint opposition senators in light of the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) continued rejection of the Dec. 9 general election.
Eustace is claiming an NDP victory in the polls, which electoral officials have declared won by the Unity Labour Party by a margin of eight seats to the NDP’s seven.
The NDP leader had said in December that NDP MPs would not be sworn in, as this would indicate acceptance of the election results, but later changed course, saying that they would be sworn in for “purely technical reasons” because lawyers advised the NDP that its elected members may lose their seats if they didn’t show up for Parliament.
“OK, if you accept that argument, my questions are these: Why bother to swear in Senators? Senators can’t lose their seats for not showing up, because, obviously, they don’t have seats to lose. You can name/change senators at any time in the life of the Parliament. What would have happened if you didn’t name senators yesterday? (nothing),” Gonsalves, who is MP for East St. George said in a post on Facebook on Tuesday.
“And since the plan was to walk out of Parliament anyway, why ask two grown people to take an oath simply to walk out of Parliament? I can understand the elected members taking the oath. But if you plan to avoid Parliament out of protest, the swearing of senators makes no sense. [Also], by nominating only two senators, you are accepting that you are in opposition, because the gov’t side gets to nominate 4 and you get to nominate,” Gonsalves wrote.
He also asked why Eustace had accepted the post of Leader of the Opposition.
“You can get sworn in as an MP to protect your seat from a by-election while still declining the post of leader of the opposition,” Gonsalves said of Eustace, who was elected for a fifth term as MP for East Kingstown in the December elections.
“You can just be a regular MP,” Gonsalves said, noting that accepting the post of leader of the opposition guarantees a larger salary than a regular MP “and confirm that you have accepted your role in the opposition.
“Again, I want the LOTO or a lawyer to help me out with these two Qs. I’m genuinely curious. Am I missing something?” Gonsalves said.