Allen Chastanet, the leader of the opposition (LOO), has been caught in a dispute with Ernest Hilaire, Leader of Government business in the House, over his speaking time at the 2022/23 budget debate scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday this week.
Chastanet is insisting that he speaks last prior to the Minister of Finance’s summing up at the 2022/23 budget debate. According to the LOO, he must be able to respond to every member on the government side of the House. In response to a letter from the Leader of Government business, he claimed that there was no convention (not true) regarding the order of speaking at budget debates, and that while he was on the government benches, he allowed one opposition member to speak after two of his members spoke.
Well, with only two members on the opposition side, it would mean he either speaks first after the Minister of Finance or fourth if his adopted pattern while in government is to be followed.
Mindful of his two-man opposition team, he suggested that the ratio be changed from 2:1 to 7:1 for speaking order. With this change, his options of speaking order would be either first or ninth. But that would not do for the LOO; so in his usual petulant style, he has concluded, conveniently, that there has never been any convention about the leader of the opposition speaking immediately after the Minister of Finance has presented his budget for debate.
He has decided on his own that seven of the government’s parliamentarians must speak after the Minister of Finance followed by one from the opposition, followed by seven from the government and then one from the opposition. The speaking order available to the opposition would then be eighth and sixteenth.
As Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet had disrespectfully told the members of the opposition that they had lost their right to speak because they had lost the elections. Today, he has found himself on the opposition benches and wants to dictate to the majority when he should speak.
Allen Chastanet’s penchant to ignore rules and conventions when they don’t suit him must not be facilitated. He has done enough of this while he was prime minister and must not be allowed to continue to do so. The reason he has found himself significantly outnumbered in the House is because the voters disapproved of the foolishness he and his MPees did while in government. Allen Chastanet needs to understand that he is longer Prime Minister of Saint Lucia.