Senator Monique Taitt took members of the Senate and the media to task for accusing independent senators of hindering Government business.
Referring specifically to an article in the Weekend Nation of November 9, 2018 headlined: Blow to Government: Senate stops bill removing mandatory hanging, Taitt said they were “vilified” simply because Senator Kevin Boyce chose to ask a question.
In the story published, the Attorney General Dale Marshall was quoted as saying he was disappointed that the independent senators had put the country in an “untenable situation”.
“What transpired that evening and in the public domain thereafter and particularly in the press was nothing short of highly offensive. When the Bill was proposed, brought and voted an Honourable Senator had a query. It wasn’t an objection. It wasn’t noise. No one can say that the independent senators come into the Senate and keep noise,” the fired up senator said.
Taitt, who was speaking during the Constitution (Amendment) (No.1) Bill 2019 debate, said: “We had an Honourable Senator appointed by the Governor General of Barbados who had a query on something that affected accused persons. It was ignored. It wasn’t considered worthy of consideration.”
The lawyer pointed out that the vote should have never been taken until the query was clarified.
“I remain confused as to why we went to the vote because the Government didn’t have the numbers. Government was five short. If you listen to the recording I am over here saying: ‘What is happening? Why are we going to the vote? Why are we not suspending and addressing the query?
“It was evident throughout the process that the independent and Opposition senators were in agreement with getting the query clarified. We went to the vote then it was defeated. We created history on a query. We didn’t say no to the suite of legislation but yet that was bandied about that we stopped the legislation.”
She praised Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley for bringing clarity to the situation and “fixing” it. However, she took a turn in Government asking if they were creating a dictatorship.
“I do not like the idea that you have all and no one is to ask you anything. It can’t be that you are trying to create a dictatorship. Monique Taitt will not accept from the Head of State Her Excellency an independent senator position and come in here and don’t have anything to say. It cannot be expected that independent senators will rubber stamp anything. We are creating a furore because we are actually reading and digesting. We are analysing and we are asking questions. It cannot be said that we are frustrating you from fulfilling your manifesto or BERT commitments. I take great offence to what transpired after that vote and the attack on Senator Boyce and the honourable senators …”
The independent senator reminded the Chamber that they were placed there by Governor General Dame Sandra Mason and were well aware of the role they should play.
“When those of us who were appointed in June 2018, met at Government House with the Governor General, prior to being sworn in, she made it pellucidly clear our role as independent senators was to look after the interest of the people of Barbados. She also made it clear that we were not to have any political affiliation with any political party…”