Despite ongoing division within its ranks over the issue, Attorney General Dale Marshall says he is quite confident that following its humiliating 30-nil defeat in last Thursday’s general election, the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) will take up Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s offer of two Senate seats.
Speaking to reporters today following the swearing in of ten of the 12 Government members of the Upper Chamber, Marshall disclosed that the necessary amendments to the Constitution that would allow for Governor General Dame Sandra Mason to legitimately extend the offer to the DLP, in the absence of a Leader of the Opposition, would be made by Parliament on Tuesday.
“The only stance I am seeing from the Democratic Labour Party is what has been reported in the Press and by all accounts the party appears divided on the subject. We will see if there is any less confusion after we are actually able to [officially] present to them the opportunity, but I rather suspect that they would accept,” Marshall said following the brief ceremony at Government House, the official residence of the Governor General.
Since the offer was made last week there has been a lack of consensus within the DLP on the issue with the party’s campaign manager for its recent disastrous outing at the polls, Robert Bobby Morris, telling Barbados TODAY this week that there was no need to accept the seats as the party would regain its rightful place in Parliament soon.
However, George Connolly, who lost overwhelmingly to the BLP’s Kerrie Symmonds in St James Central, took an opposing view.
“I’ve heard the comments of Bobby Morris and I have a lot of respect for him, but I disagree vehemently with the position that he took on that. I think we need a voice, and a senatorial voice is as good a voice as any. You can’t effect any major changes, but certainly you can have a voice. So I am in total agreement if the offer is made that it should be accepted,” he said.
DLP advisor Hamilton Lashley, who previously served on both sides of the political divide, also urged the DLP to accept the offer from Mottley while newcomer Rodney Grant, who was defeated in St Michael South East, was also in favour of taking up the senatorial seats.
“I still believe that if we have an opportunity to go into any aspect of the houses, Upper House or Lower House, and speak on behalf of the people, I think it is good for democracy,” Grant said, while suggesting that to do otherwise
would be an insult to the close to 34,000 people who voted for the incumbent party in the May 24 poll.
Without giving a definitive timeline, Marshall today warned the DLP that time was of the essence, pointing out that the first sitting of the Senate will be on Wednesday.
“We want it done with dispatch. That’s why we are moving to make the amendments to the Constitution on Tuesday, then the Senate would meet on Wednesday. We will have to see how it works out, but we expect that Governor General would be in a position to do what we are hoping she will very shorty,” the Attorney General added.
He also revealed that constitutional amendments had to be made to accommodate in the Senate former Consul General to Canada Kay McConney, who has already been sworn in as Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology in Mottley’s new 30-member Cabinet, and Rawdon Adams, son of late Prime Minister Tom Adams. They could not be sworn in today because they did not meet the requirement of being ordinary residents within the last 12 months.
Marshall explained that amendment would now mean that a person only has to be a citizen in order to be appointed to the Senate.
Following last week’s resounding BLP victory, the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs also announced that three new judges are to be appointed to ease the backlog of cases in the domestic court system.
“While we would need to make long term provisions, there is a provision in Constitution which would allow the Governor General in circumstances where the business of the court requires it, to make an appointment of acting judges. So those appointments can be made without amending the legislation immediately,” he said. (CM)