Opposition Leader Godwin Friday. (iWN file photo)

Opposition Leader Godwin Friday says he feels targeted by the Attorney General’s Reference (Constitutional Questions) Bill passed into law on Thursday.

Friday, who is Member of Parliament for the Northern Grenadines, however, said that his fears did not originate with him, but were based on comments made by the government.

“Mr. Speaker, as it is now, the bill leaves a lot to be desired in terms of the way it is structured, in itself, the political context in which it has arisen. I feel, Mr. Speaker that I am somewhat targeted in these matters,” he said during the debate on Thursday.

“And it makes me, Mr. Speaker, very unconformable to be debating it here in this Honourable House because it is not me, you know. I didn’t give the examples,” he said, adding that the prime minister, in his presentation, gave the examples of the motion of no confidence and his (Friday’s) Canadian citizenship.

“And you are asking me to be a party to something that originated with the intention of me as a target. That’s asking a lot of me, Mr. Speaker. It is asking a lot of my colleagues on this side of the house, it is asking a lot of our society. When we do bills, they ought to arise in a context that addresses matters that are of broad concern; not matters that are specifically targeted,” said Friday who, along with the other opposition lawmakers, opposed the bill.

The law gives the Attorney General authority, subject to the approval of the Cabinet, to send to the Court of Appeal questions about the constitution for interpretation.

However, the opinions of the court will be non-binding.

‘Godwin Friday references?’

Friday said he had to go back to ask the overall question of what is the “mischief” the bill was seeking to correct — that is to say, what is its overall objective.

“And we can’t be naive in thinking that this just arose because intellectually, we think it useful to have this to go to the court. It arose within a political context and the two questions I hear, they worry me, because both of them relate to me,” he said and chuckled.

“One of them has to do with the motion of no confidence I brought to this House [in January], and the second has to do with my Commonwealth citizenship through my citizenship in Canada and here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” the opposition leader said.

“So, what are we doing with this legislation? You’re going to have two references — the Godwin Friday references? The Leader of the opposition references with respect to matters concerning me.”

Some supporters of the ruling Unity Labour Party and other persona have argued that Friday should not be a Member of the Vincentian Parliament because he is also a Canadian citizen.

Friday who was born in SVG and attained Canadian citizenship as an adult, has rejected this argument, noting that the SVG Constitution says that to vote in elections or to become an MP in SVG, a person must be a Commonwealth citizen.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, right, and Attorney General Jaundy Martin in Parliament on Thursday. (iWN photo)

In February, amidst confusion about the meaning of the section of the SVG Constitution under which motions of no confidence are brought to Parliament, the government, opposition, and the speaker had agreed to ask the court for an opinion on the relevant section of the constitution.

On May 3, the government brought the Attorney General’s Reference (Constitutional Questions) Bill to Parliament, saying this was to give legislative power to the agreement reached in January.

However, the opposition rejected the bill saying that it went beyond what they had agreed in January and that it was aimed at the opposition leader.

Speaking during the debate on Thursday, the opposition leader said:

“If you have a question with respect to my legitimacy or eligibility to be in the Parliament, do what is done all the time: bring a petition or sue me or something and let us decide it as a live issue rather than having it as some sort of theoretical question that is presented to the court and then if you want to get me out of Parliament, you still have to go and take specific actions against me and see if the court would rule consistent with the opinion that is purported would be given with respect to the matter that comes before it under this legislation.”

Under the law, the opinion of the Court of Appeal is non-binding, and the opposition has said that the opinion should, in fact, be binding.

Friday said that under the bill, the constitutional questions that would reach the court are only those that the government thinks worthy.

“And if we in this Parliament are to give support to that, Mr. Speaker, why not have it where the entire Parliament has some say,” Friday said, adding that this should also be extended to interest groups.

He said that another “large question” that needs to be determined is that when there are such bills, the state bears the cost of litigation, which makes it easy for the government to go forward on matters

“And so, Mr. Speaker, I do not believe that the bill achieves the purported progressive intention that it aspires to. And when we consider the way in which you make legislation that seems perfectly innocuous – a law to do something that everybody says the objective seems laudable – but the way in which it is applied later on can corrupt the very intentions that are being espoused in the draft legislation.

“This is why you need, Mr. Speaker, the input of the Parliament so that people are aware of what is happening.”

He said everyone is aware of the context in which the bill is being brought.

Friday said he had a problem with the Speaker’s ruling with respect to the motion of no confidence in January.

Back then, House Speaker, Jomo Thomas ruled against the government that the opposition needed majority support in Parliament before a motion of no confidence can be debated.

Thomas, however, agreed that the government could amend the opposition motion, which the government did, essentially turning it into a motion of confidence in the government, the outcome of which has no constitutional consequence.

He later said he erred in making that decision.

On Thursday, the opposition leader told the speaker:

“We have discussed ways in which to address that. The government wants to devise this method to deal with it. Well, they created the problem because they argued vigorously before you, even when I think you saw that the argument was invalid.”

He said that the government switched the motion and invited opposition lawmakers to debate it.

“Inviting us here today to debate this bill is a continuation of that same insult. We are fixing a problem that you created, that ought not to have been there. So, Mr, Speaker, as it is presented, I will not support the bill.”

20 replies on “Opposition Leader feels targeted”

  1. Friday is again right. Ralph Gonsalves created this bill to get him closer to his dream of a dictatorship and lifetime power for his party, that he has been seeking for a long time. As I have written many times, he is very frightened of Godwin Friday and he is now seeking to create legislative laws that he can use against Friday. Gonsalves was frightened to death at the no-confidence move by Friday in January. He was only saved by a mistake and a mis-interpretation of the law by the speaker, who admitted it afterwards. Otherwise, if things had gone according to the laws of Saint Vincent, we may have an NDP government right now.

  2. Mike in Canouan says:

    Now we can all wait for the ULP propaganda “Vincy Lawyer” to construe the truth here in an attempt to make us think that Friday is wrong and that Ralph Gonsalves deserves our worship as he becomes Dictator for Life with all these power-grabbing laws.
    What is not mentioned is that this law can also be construed not only to make no-confidence votes useless but also to be applied to our elections whereby the AG can rule for all time that the ULP won the election(s).

    Many of these laws that Gansalves is trying to force onto the nation spells the end of Democracy and I can bet that the intention is to use them in such a way to insure Camillo becomes our next PM whether we want him or not; with the exception of all the brain-washed ULP supporters that are easily made to believe that they want Camilloor anything else Ralph says they should want.

    1. You are very fixated on me smh….

      I am not a member of the ULP…

      …I speak only on areas that I have expertise. If you were trolling me properly, you would have seen that I said that whatever the intent based on your reasons why the Bill was drafted, this entire thing is a damn waste because the avenue already exists for someone who may think that Friday is not eligible per the RPA, to do a petition. I do agree with Dr. Friday in this regard.

      Your analysis and understanding of the Bill is very erroneous but common sense dictates that I do not waste my time highlighting every instance of your flawed assessment. Stick to whatever your expertise may be because you are DEAD WRONG on the intent and purpose of this Bill.

      The PM may have his own agenda but he is still not about the law. Any decisions made by the courts is not binding on Parliament, which in my estimation would have usurped the doctrine of separation of powers. Parliament consists of both sides and any ruling by the court is thus not just automatic to be a ruling of Parliament.

      Sorry, well I am not sorry to burst your bubbles!

  3. C. Ben-David says:

    All over the world, politics is a blood sport. If Friday can’t take the heat, he should get out of the kitchen.

    1. Mike in Canouan says:

      Friday seems to be taking the heat very well! It is Ralph that is pulling his hair out trying to create new laws to gain more power. Yes, If RALPH can’t take the heat HE should get out of the kitchen.

  4. Did you say of our self-appointed and most august ruler, that these nefarious actions are “to get him closer to his dream of a dictatorship and lifetime power for his party”? Look again, the dictatorship is already in full swing. What past and present things are we to compare this with?

    Take a casual look back at what happened in Cuba and with the man Fidel Castro! Watch in the case of Hugo Chávez the Former President of Venezuela. Now take the legal manipulations of Hugo Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro and what are we looking at? Nothing different in form! In what doctrines were all these tyrants schooled?

    In our case here in SVG, this manipulative “POWER GRAB” that has now taken place, is entirely in line with the usual tricks of these grubby dictators. See how long it is taking to get this vexed issue of the last election resolved!

    Yet we the Plantation surfs are to blame, for foolishly allowing ourselves to be ruled over and outwitted by this new Plantation strategy, of using nice demagoguery words of “freedom tomorrow”!

    The death of our Democracy is entirely the fault of Vincentians, who were and are now sleepwalking right back into our new chains. Chains being forged by one power hungry man, his extended family and a new breed of buccaneers!

  5. Hashtag Prince says:

    My, My, My! I am so dissappointed in the man I soooo respected.

    Dear Dr. Friday, please remember what Vynette Frederick’s mother said a few years ago:

    “My dear people, it is a winding road but God is plotting the course. There may be perils and trials along the way, but we shall overcome!”

    Dr. Friday, this blatant, aggressive, subtle and unmerited attack against you by the Comrade will backfire on him. The Electorate is watching and waiting.They will see that he has low principles and is loosing his integrity.

    Take your case to the streets and have meetings in various places with the NDP team. Lobby against injustice and spitefulness. Get others who also have been unfaired and targeted to speak at these meetings and places. Rub shoulders with the people!

    The Comrade is fearful of you, the disadvantage of his behavior is that the island will see that he is a weak leader. He is so afraid of who you are, and he knows the tide will change, but where God appoints no man can disappoint. All I can see in all this is – a little pussy-cat playing big-tiger. The Comrade will self-distruct!

    1. C. ben-David says:

      Nonsense. The Comrade could never fear some lightweight Bequia mulatto.

      The Comrade only fears the electorate, the sole body that could end his rule or the rule of his chosen successor.

      1. You are vile race baiter! Why does Friday’ race merits being mentioned? The sight of your name conjures up images of creatures that reside in the gutters

      2. C. ben-David, you lost your words?
        That must be why you resorted to rrferring to Dr. Friday in such racist and derogatory terms.
        Please be informed that the term “mulatto” is a remnant from slavery and is quite outdated.
        Let me also inform you that the people of Bequia are no less Vincentians than those of Kingstown. Just check the Constitution and their passports.
        Therefore Dr. Friday is a VINCENTIAN MAN who was born, and resides in, Bequia. Lightweight or heavyweight notwithstanding.
        Vincentian man just like Dr. Gonsalves. No less.

  6. Yes how come the 2 elites Vincy Lawyer and C-Ben have nothing to say when once again Ralph tries to serve his own purpose with the people as scape goats …

    1. Vincy Lawyer says:

      Can you read? Isnt my opinion clearly elucidated above and in other articles.

      You should improve your trolling so you wont make such statements. It’s not a good look.

      Who am I? What made you assume that I am an elitist? Did you stereotype me without knowledge of who I am and what I stand for?

    2. Mike in Canouan says:

      Well spotted Yolo! It is a good thing that you and others that comment on IWN are not easily fooled. It seems to be Vincy Lawyer’s duty to be as deceptive as Ralph himself. For those of us that can think for themselves, it is almost sickening to read anything he writes. He goes out of his way to try to sound highly educated, without realizing that the sign of a true intellectual is the ability to talk on the level of your audience. At least C ben knows this and is great at this aside from his elitist attitude.

    3. Vincy Lawyer says:

      Al, I am all for people having discussions and sharing your opinions but if you’re gonna call me out, be prepared for my response 🙂

  7. Look at those NDP hypocrites, the said folks who were attacking Sir Louis recently regarding the above mentioned. They are the ones who’d brought this up, now the heat is on Dr Friday, they blue vex. Vincy Lawyer, your input is valued.

  8. Too bad none of you had the insight to know I was being sarcastic, my not so hidden subtext being that our Por-too-gee Comrade has disparagingly referred to the Prime Minister of St. Lucia, the Honourable Allen Chastanet (who happens to be married to a blond white woman which would put even more cream in his coffee), a man who could easily pass-for-white outside the Caribbean as a “Castries mulatto.”

    Look, I hate political correctness and its hypocritical obsession with calling nearly everyone the so-called “progressives” disagree with a racist while promoting racist affirmative actions programmes for already hyper-privileged “people of colour,” another term I detest because the radical activitists insist that we all use this term but are outraged when anyone use the term “coloured people.”

    Am I wrong to assert that our country is still racially stratified with wealth and economic power disproportionately held by: (1) the few remaining descendants of the white colonial planter class, (2) what used to be called “Bajans” — poor whites who came here as plantation labourers and low level overseers during the late 19th century — most of whom managed to climb up the social and economic ladder, (3) mulattos who gained privileges from their white elite ancestors, and (4) the wealthy descendants of what were poor Portuguese indentured sugar-cane labourers who migrated here also during the 19th century to replace those ex-slaves who were able to escape the druggery and poverty of planting and cutting sugar cane.

    But this history lesson is also racist, right?

    Long live political incorrectness — also known as telling it as it is — and God bless Kenton Chance for allowing it to flourish on his news site.

  9. It is said that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. You have just proved it right Mr. C. ben-David. Your condescension is outdone only by your arrogance. We do not need your history lesson. Some of us commenting here are well educated and perhaps better read than you Mr. C.ben-David. None of us commenting here deserve your asinine and rude references to any of us, politically correct or otherwise.
    You, sir, are no gentleman.

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