Our Readers' Opinions
November 3, 2015
Fire in the House

by Frank E da Silva

On Saturday, October 6, the “presenter” on a Nice radio program made a call for protest action at the next sitting of the House of Assembly (HOA) on Thursday, October 11. On Monday, October 8, Arnhim Ulrick Eustace, Leader of the Opposition, announced on Nice radio that later in the week he will be informing the nation of the date for mass protest by his party. On Tuesday, October 9, a letter appeared on page 9 of this paper supporting protest/picket. The week was shaping up to be politically hot.{{more}}

On Wednesday, October 10, we tuned to Nice radio only to hear that in place of regular program, the Opposition NDP was going to hold a press conference. As we waited, we were constantly reminded by the programme host, Mr Ernesto Cooke, to make sure to listen to the HOA the next day – “there will be fire in the place”. Serious questions requiring serious answers would be asked. After numerous false starts, the press conference got on the way.

Swimming Pool

To introduce the speakers at the press conference was a lady adjudged by our Court of Appeal to be the author of an affidavit which contained “evidence we know to have been untrue” [ECSC 24/2011] and who now stands charged with three counts of perjury. A lady who the rank and file soundly defeated in her bid for re-election to the post of PRO of the NDP but appears – with the blessing of aforementioned party leader – to be the de facto PRO of said party.

First to speak was the leader who soon informed about questions to be asked in the HOA next day. Among other things, we were told that ULP Senator David Brown was slated to address a question to the Minister of Finance which concerned the accounting for taxpayer’s moneys dispensed to the Office of Leader of the Opposition. A parliamentary anomaly but legal, it was labelled a distraction and an attempt to avoid or delay the serious questions of the opposition. We were then apprised of two of the fiery questions both having to do with passports and citizenship and clearly linked to the firestorm over Canada’s decision to impose a visa requirement on Vincentians.

Upon hearing the question about passports destroyed, two things came to mind, (a) swimming pool at Prime Minister’s (PM’s) residence and (b) financing for Kingsley DeFreitas journalism course, questions asked in the HOA. The next question was to be asked by Linton Lewis about persons obtaining citizenship since the ULP came to office. I called Mr Lewis immediately. He was unavailable. The NDP seem to have forgotten that a similar question was asked in 2006 to target Syrians. This time the target was really Venezuelans and Iranians – the opposition had in their minds established a connection between Canada’s visa decision and Iran. The next morning, I tried again to get Mr Lewis but he was already in the HOA.

Nice anomaly

So sure was the NDP of fireworks that Nice radio decided – another anomaly – to broadcast parliament live. In the HOA, the opening salvo came from the man with the “fresh pair of legs”. It fell short. Next came Daniel Cummings charging “improper motives” on the part of the PM. Worthless, since I, too, can recall Mr Cummings making the statement he claims he never made.

David Brown was up, wanted to know if the Minister of Finance could tell the nation how the Opposition spent money allotted to him for a research officer when for almost a year one was not employed. The wily PM cunningly suggested an audit but he would not request one – either the public servants having heard the issue being raised could conduct one or Mr Eustace to clear his name could request one. Mr Eustace asked The Speaker for an opportunity to explain but The Speaker refused: he did not want to set a precedent. I think The Speaker saved Mr Eustace who has already proffered two different explanations of how he used the funds – (a) for poor constituents and (b) to pay outstanding utility bills. Arnhim has a problem.

Then there was the new financial genius Patel Matthews who thought that a loan of $5m would be enough to pay a three percent wage increase which adds $7m to the recurrent account every month. But who could mock Mr Matthews when Dr Friday was the first to make the suggestion? And where were the two financial luminaries – Eustace and Fresh-pair-legs – to “lead” the Montgomery Daniel equivalent?

A Bomb

And there was Dr Lewis on his citizenship question. The PM answered the same way he did before – giving the number persons from different countries but not the year – Iran four. As soon as they began to salivate, he dropped a bomb on them – 1990 to March 2001.

“The Iranian regime has been blamed for many things recently. For one, it’s been called the ‘most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today’ by the Harper government. But there’s a new one to add to the list – Canada visa requirements for citizens of other countries, particularly St Vincent and the Grenadines. The NDP in SVG – which is, funny enough, also the opposition party in that country…jumped on the announcement, taking a jab at both the country’s ruling party and Iran. Leader of the Opposition, Arnhim Eustace …is convinced that his country’s ‘close’ ties with Iran factored into Canada’s decision. ‘Any ties between our country and I ran, when combined with falsification of passports, would be unacceptable to Canada and must have entered into Canada’s decision-making,’ Mr Eustace said, according to the party’s website,” mocked a Canadian newspaper.

What a fire! Under the ULP, Iranians granted citizenship? None. Even the most devoted Eustace sycophant ought to be ashamed.

(This article was first published in October 2012)