Following the election of Mrs Sylvanie Burton as President Elect in the House of Parliament on Wednesday, September 27, 2023, the Hon Attorney General (AG) of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Mr Levi Peters rose to offer congratulation remarks to Mrs Burton, or so we all thought. Instead he chose to take direct aim at the opposition, both within and outside of Parliament, and quite frankly brought himself and possibly, Parliament, into disrepute. In my view, the AG was out of place, out of hand and out of his mind to have made that “drumstick statement” directed, as it were, at Mrs Annette Sandford, former Senator and presidential nominee of the leader of the Opposition. Mr Levi Peter lacked political class.
The voices of individual women and men and women’s organizations, notably the Dominica Nurses Association (DNA) and the Dominica National Council of Women (DNCW), roared in protest, calling either for his resignation or an apology or both. Almost one week later, Mr Peters crawled out of his safe haven, with what he referred to as an apology. His feeble attempt to contextualize and to “clarify” the statement, only made matters worse. It only revealed his efforts to justify a deliberate and malicious attack of and on the second presidential nominee.
AG Peters posits that his statement was taken out of context. Really, Sir? You stood to extend congratulations to the President Elect, yet your opening statement was loaded with your feelings of anger and disgust. Oh, how you wished that you were in a different forum, where you would have verbally crushed the bones of all these lesser mortals of the opposition, who dared to put forward another nominee in competition to the nominee of the Supremo. You behaved, Sir, as if the opposition’s nominee, was less Kalinago, less woman, less academically qualified than that of the Government’s nominee. A close examination of those two individuals would reveal to any objective observer that, notwithstanding certain concerns about each candidate, they both were presidential nominees, of which Dominica and indeed, the Kalinago Territory could be justifiably proud. In this regard Dominica was destined to have its first Kalinago, its first woman President irrespective of the vote. The outcome of that parliamentary vote was always a No Brainer on the simple basis that the “I’s” almost always have it.
Of course, Mr Peters was not obliged to support the opposition nominee. He had/has that constitutional right. By the same token, he should not have so rubbished their nominee as to suggest that they had no right to participate in the very process which the constitution caters for and which he is being paid to protect. What made the AG’s utterances even more offensive is that he is a Public Officer, and he ought not to behave like a politician. I seem to recall Attorney General Anthony Laronde, (1995-2000) being cautioned and advised against that kind of behavior, and rightly so, by no less a person than Mr C A Savarin, Hon Parliamentary Representative of Roseau Central at that time. Mr Laronde was wrong then, Mr Peters is wrong now. As the saying goes, a car is a car is a car.
I condemn the derogatory statement of Attorney General Levi Peters. And given his lame attempt to clarify and justify his statement, I consider his “apology” to be hollow, lacking substance, void and of no effect.
House Speaker Joseph Isaac, is not allowed to escape. He failed miserably in his responsibility to the House by not reigning in Mr Peters and asking him to withdrawn his statement. The Speaker should reflect on his inactions and consider dealing with the matter at the next sitting of Parliament. Unbelievably, there were women on the Government’s side who sniggered and considered the utterances of Mr Peters to be funny. Shame on you!
Within the past few days, the Hon Prime Minister has come out in defense of Mr Peters. WoW! What a travesty! Mr Peters has been under pressure to resign and it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the short term.
I strongly recommend that Mr Peters makes an unreserved apology to Parliament, Mrs Sanford, the Kalinago people and the people of Dominica and further recommend that the offensive Drumstick Statement be expunged from the parliamentary records.
Given the current circumstances, I am also of the view that the position of Mr Peters as Attorney General is untenable.
To this end, I wish to unequivocally lend my support to the ongoing call and agitation by some women for the resignation or removal of the Mr Levi Peters from the office of Attorney General. Our public officials need to understand that it is not simply a matter of penning policy, signing international charters and conventions and legislating laws but that they must be exemplary by their words and actions.