Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 10, 2016 (SKNIS): Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy has slammed the Members of the Dr. Douglas-led Opposition for their empty rhetoric and lack of preparedness on the 2017 Budget Debates, referring to them as “bitter and trivial” and “lacking in substance.”
In his wrap-up on the 2017 Budget Debates in Parliament on December 9, Prime Minister Harris said that while the Members of the Opposition had nothing of note to contribute to the debate, he was extremely satisfied with his government’s delivery of itself throughout the three-day period.
“All members on the side of this House delivered themselves well and they all made me proud, but I want to single out our newest member, Senator Akilah Byron-Nisbett, for an excellent maiden response to this Budget. I was indeed enlightened and pleased with the substance by the presentation of all members on this side,” said Dr. Harris, while lamenting that he “was genuinely looking forward to a debate, a contest of ideas from the Opposition, limited as they are now given their long stay in government, but they were a sure and certain disappointment.”
“They appeared bitter and trivial, Mr. Speaker; unprepared they came for the Budget debate and from their intervention, both directly from the leader opposite (and members), they came with one agenda—to distract, to discredit, to sow seeds of division and confusion. Luckily for the country, their strategy did not work and their unpreparedness came through,” he said.
Prime Minister Harris said that the Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Denzil Douglas, was vacuous in his presentation and was followed by his members, using the analogy of the fairy tale “The Three Blind Mice” to describe them.
“The Leader of the Opposition, having being given equal time as that of the presenter, could not even properly fill in the time, lacking in preparation, and so he, having said all that there was to have been said, the others were certain they were only going through the emotions and then of course like ‘Three Blind Mice’ we see how they went—they all went up to the farmer’s wife. He cut off their tail with a carving knife and that was the end of the three blind mice,” said Prime Minister Harris.
“And so that is the story. Lacking in leadership on their side, they all floundered and were to be found wanting, and to make up for their emptiness, they sought as it were to deliberately put the House in disarray and for that I condemn them for their mischief; I condemn them for their efforts to insert you Mr. Speaker into their political maneuvering and I want to say in my estimation that so far you have been doing a wonderful job. You have to take control of the Parliament. Your word must be your bond,” he said.
Dr. Harris said that he was not at all surprised at the disrespect meted out to the Speaker from Members of the Opposition.
“I am not surprised at the anger and disrespect, which Members of the Opposition have shown to the Office of the Speaker, because I recall that they broke all parliamentary tradition when you were elevated to the high office of Speaker. Instead of commending or at least keeping quiet as has been the norm—the norm in the election of a Speaker on that side or this side is to give support or you keep quiet and you give the Speaker an opportunity to come into his or her own norm, way of managing, mastering the business of the House, but you had the member for number three (Hon. Konris Maynard), who is not ready to serve the people and who is not willing to learn, too arrogant, and he started to say ‘Well you Mr. Speaker don’t have our support,”’ Dr. Harris said, while making the point that he has never heard of this happening before in any Sitting of Parliament anywhere in the world.
“Never before, in all the years of parliamentary sittings in this country or in any country in the Caribbean Region, has anyone shown such disrespect from the outset with respect to the Speaker of the House.
“And then, the member for number two (Hon. Marcella Liburd), who ought to have known better—who comes to this Parliament always late and never gets off her cell (phone) in Parliament—knows not what is happening in Parliament—she is encouraging (unparliamentary behaviour) and she was a former Speaker—a lack of discipline and respect,” the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance added.
“And no wonder yesterday, the Senator opposite (Hon. Nigel Carty) got himself in trouble, for repeatedly he refused to heed the advice and the counsel of the Speaker and instead of coming to Parliament with what he ought to be coming to the Parliament with, to speak on the single most important matter in the life of the Parliament everywhere, that is, the Budget—only one other matter in the life of the Parliament has assumed in our Westminster model more importance than the Budget is the Motion of No Confidence. The failure of the government to pass the Budget is construed in the Westminster Model as a Vote of No Confidence and any government that fails to have its Budget passed, therefore must go back to the polls. So you have the Motion of No Confidence treated as the single most important Motion to come to Parliament in its life, and the Budget coming in close second.
Continuing to rip the Opposition apart, Prime Minister Harris exposed the most senior of the Members of the Opposition, Dr. Douglas and Ms. Liburd.
“The Opposition, having no contribution to make with respect to the Budget—so they are not here now, but it is better for the House and better for the country, it appears; when they are not here, the House is in decorum; the House is in order; the House gives off an atmosphere that says that serious people are there doing the people’s business and whenever the member for number two (Marcella Liburd) in particular is here, you get a lot of necromancy, you get a lot of hearsay, you get a lot of one kind of talk; every debate, she doesn’t prepare at all. She comes and like ‘Morning Peter Cabbage Ma’am’—‘not good morning, Cabbage Ma’am’—that is how she comes. She comes and she will say this, no matter how it fits into the debate, no matter how it takes you off the substance of the debate, and she ignores the rules that speak to relevance when a Member is speaking on matters before,”’ Prime Minister Harris said.
The Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Douglas, then received his fair share of criticism from the country’s third prime minister.
“So the Leader of the Opposition comes and he has not grown. I mean he is too old to grow physically, but he has not grown in stature; he has not grown in statesmanship; he has not grown in civility. He comes in his coarse way—and perhaps, his greatest talent would be that he of all leaders in the country has always appealed to the basest and vilest in our citizens on which to climb, the basest and vilest. Look at all his utterances in public life—he is a leader with no moral minimum and that is how he paraded himself yesterday and when he cannot deal with the substance of the argument, when he cannot put forward an alternative idea, he goes where he is most comfortable, the lowest of the low. And so it becomes the politics of distraction—and so those are the things which he tries to get us bogged down in,” said the prime minister.
“And they came not to deal with this Budget, but let us it make it a political meeting; let us go on the rostrum. That is how he was behaving, warlike and angry, short and looking for height, and so he is jumping up. That is how he was behaving in Parliament, and he believes that that is acceptable, so he says after twenty years, a man with a checkered past and a long record, that he wants to engage us in the Parliament now on a debate about cronyism and corruption,” added Dr. Harris.
“How dare he wants that kind of debate after 20 years of parading in this country? Why does he want that? He really wants us to debate that?” asked Prime Minister Harris.