In a stunning move, speaker of the house for the St. Lucian parliament, Andy Daniel, ejected from parliament,the government minister for economic development, housing, urban, renewal, transport and civil aviation Guy Joseph.
Joseph was ejected after refusing to withdraw statements made against a member of the opposition, according to a Caribbean News Now report.
At the time, debate was being held on an Immigration Bill introduced by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet. The bill, in part, imposed new visa restrictions on Venezuelan nationals.
Chastanet maintains that much of the drugs and gun-crime on the island could be traced back to Venezuela.
During his contribution to the debate, Joseph said referring to the opposition, “You have a vested interest in the arms coming in.”
In his response, opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) member, Ernest Hilaire, said to joseph, “I can see you teething, don’t worry; I can see your teeth smiling, don’t worry,” an obvious reference to the word teefing (thieving) used widely in colloquial language and Calypso in the Caribbean.
Daniel then asked Joseph to withdraw the statement to which Joseph responded “What statement” then he said “I’m not withdrawing.”
At this point Daniel politely asked Joseph to leave the house if he refused to withdraw the statement.
““I will leave the house,” Joseph responded, and then walked out of the chamber.
When asked to withdraw his statement opposition member Hilaire did so immediately.
While on the surface it seemed clear the minister was implying that the opposition was involved in or benefitting in some way from the arms trafficking in Venezuela, what he actually meant was left unexplained.
The opposition leader Phillip J Pierre, dismissed the statement as typical government vindictiveness. Perhaps, a relevant observation, Caribbean News Now suggests in considering the way the government may respond to speaker Daniel.
In St. Lucia and other Caribbean islands, the speaker is in all practicality appointed by the government of the day. While the current speaker showed remarkable courage and impartiality in facing down and holding the government members accountable. whether this courage will be rewarded or even tolerated remains to be seen.