An opposition lawmaker says that St. Vincent and the Grenadines should have rioted over the developments in Parliament earlier this year when the opposition’s motion of no confidence in the government was not debated in parliament.
In February, opposition lawmakers tabled a motion of no confidence in the Ralph Gonsalves administration.
However, House Speaker Jomo Thomas allowed the government to turn the motion into a motion of confidence in the government, which government lawmakers debated and passed in the absence of opposition legislators who stayed away in protest.
Thomas, in a Facebook post a few days later, said that he should have allowed the no confidence motion to go to a debate.
And, last Thursday, Member of Parliament for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock, told the national assembly that a riot should have broken out in SVG as a result of the development.
Leacock, an opposition lawmaker, made the observation as lawmakers debated a bill to amend the International Business Companies Act, which Gonsalves said small nations were being forced to do to avoid being blacklisted by the European Union.
Leacock said that it was about the fourth time that lawmakers were confronting this suite of legislation to respond to challenges imposed by the international community.
He said it was an attempt by the international community to dismantle the competitive advantage that the sector offers small states in their efforts to enjoy some economic gains.
Based on what was said by the government, the nation is between a rock and a hard place and one can, therefore, understand the robust approach taken by the prime minister, Leacock said.
He was referring to Gonsalves’ contribution to the debate, during which he accused the EU of using “hired ruffians” to “bully” small states as far as the offshore finance sector is concerned.
Leacock said that opposition lawmakers agree that the actions by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries and the EU are nothing more than that of a bully and that it is an extremely difficult exercise to stand up to friends when they conduct themselves “in this very way”.
“But allow me to say, Mr. Speaker, that we could have and should have been in a much better and stronger position in this honourable House today to confront that bully.
“But, alas, I say, Mr. Speaker, if only for a negative reason, and perhaps speaking from my own personal experience in this honourable house, it is perhaps a good thing for the honourable prime minister to experience what it is like to be bullied because earlier this year, Mr. Speaker, in this hallowed hall, I took extremely strong exception and even symbolically today, this morning, I hang my head in shame when I and colleagues on both sides of this house allowed ourselves to be bullied. This country should have rioted when we allowed a vote of no confidence not to take place in this house,” Leacock said.
He added: “And I want to repeat that. It’s the worst action I believe to ever come from this honourable house that we now today find ourselves as the only Commonwealth country in which a vote of no confidence in a regime cannot take place. I mean, there is a saying by you lawyers that he who wants justice must have clean hands.”
Leacock said he remembers that a few years ago, the then leader of the opposition New Democratic Party in SVG had accommodated, in SVG, the then opposition party in St. Kitts and Nevis because they could not get the vote of no confidence that they had tabled debated in the national assembly in Basseterre.
“I would never [have] believed the table would turn and St. Kitts would accommodate a vote of no confidence and I am still in a country in which it can’t take place,” he said.
“And that in Guyana a regime can change because of a vote of no confidence but alas, you, Mr. Speaker — and I know silently you reflect on it — allowed yourself to be bullied,” Leacock further said.
“And had that not been the case, there could have been much more unanimity, common purpose, sense of pride that on this issue, we are together, we are at one. And, in fact, we can get back there, Mr. Speaker, but I want you Mr. Speaker, Honourable Speaker, that’s why I sit here when you come because I want to register how strongly I feel about sitting in a parliament in which the constitution of the country was raped, manipulated such that we have compromised our own democracy.
“As we speak, Mr. Speaker, about the suite of legislation, I see ourselves standing in a suit — three-piece – but our underpants, our boxers are soiled, our under vests are soiled and as dressed as we are, we are standing in gunslinger, gym boots, soft mash before the world.
“And I want, Mr. Speaker, if nothing else on this occasion, before I come and lend support to this bill, … I want to make this point, even in the presence of the young attorneys who are here to witness their hard word come to some fruition, to stake serious claim that this constitutional violation must not stand and you must do all in your powers and so too, the Honourable Prime Minister, to reverse that so that when we go before the international community we go there with clean hands and say that in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, government and opposition united for a common good on a firm constitutional foundation threshold, and are saying to you, the world, that we will not be bullied into submission by your iniquitous action, unfair actions, that wants to see us in a lower quality of life than we can reasonably enjoy, Mr. Speaker.”
The bill was passed with opposition support.