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Candidate selection

By Observer

Perhaps there is something in law that renders these thoughts totally void. Nonetheless, we throw them on the public table for observation.

In thinking about the current standoff between the public servants and the government, with the courts in the middle. How would the following scenario play out? I am referring to the always-employed public servants who were once employed, but who have “abandoned” their jobs by way of a court-determined illegal COVID mandate; and who stand to lose all accumulated pensions. Those ones.

Let us assume that the current standoff situation holds, and an election is called, what happens if one of these “dismissed” public servants wanted to contest the elections? How would that play out? Whether it’s in one of the possible newly census-paved seats, or in one of the existing 15, how would that play out, given that public servants are made to resign their current position before contesting an election? 

I think we are all quite familiar with what occurred with the three teachers who contested for the NDP. They were made to resign their seats before being nominated as election candidates. That ended in a court battle since, apparently, no place was found for them back into the service after what turned out to be an unsuccessful attempt at becoming elected MPs. They had to resign first before being nominated.

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Now, let us say one of these “dismissed” teachers is a popular community person who happens to have vastly accumulated and bagged the empathy of past students and community members alike, on all sides of the political barrier; and one who is likely to be a very strong political candidate with a very good chance at winning the seat. What is the process for this person to become nominated, given the current situation at hand?

On one hand, the court says this person has not abandoned the job and is therefore still employed.  Fighting out to the left corner, is the government that says otherwise — that the person is indeed no longer employed. What direction would such a person follow to complete the nomination process, again, if the current standoff holds?

Should he or she effectively follow the court’s position and somehow submit a resignation somewhere, perhaps to the Service Commission that has no current record of employment, or should this candidate proceed to nomination as if s/he is not currently employed?

Now, let us assume that this person is successfully nominated as a candidate –without submitting any resignation, and wins the seat; and let us say that the party wins government, perhaps by one seat. Can the losing candidate turn around and file an election petition, citing an unlawful candidate (the teacher) nomination? Can the ULP candidate — now scorned in opposition — who remained silent throughout this ordeal surrounding the mandate, turn around and file an election petition? Remember the standoff currently at play is between the government — with the attorney general representing — and the public servants. It is not a battle between the party and its members, and the public servants.

Call it a brazen act if you wish, but can the party — via its losing candidate — now turn around and challenge the results since, to them, the winning teacher candidate never resigned the position before being nominated, and ultimately successful at the polls? What if the party turns around and Cuban cut the issue and says that “the court said you were always employed, so you needed to resign before contesting”?

“That’s not our problem. You should have followed what the court said. The case was between you and the government; not us — the party.”

Remember that election petitions are filed by the candidate, and that there is a difference between government and party, though that line may be blurred in today’s political dispensation in SVG. Perhaps it is also a differentiation that is used conveniently. Nonetheless, there is a difference — at least legally. Can we see it play out — the scenario we just outlined? Again, perhaps there is something in law that nullifies all of this, and we are aware of the pending court hearings regarding this matter. That is the application for stay, and the appeal. In any case, we thought we’d put this out for public observation. 

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