News that Speaker of the House of Assembly Leonne Theodore-John was hospitalised Tuesday evening, Oct. 31, after she took ill during the sitting of Parliament, has evoked hot debate on social media with some persons expressing disgust that Theodore-John’s medical issues are being used for political gain.
Other persons have expressed the view that had the government appointed a deputy speaker, Theodore-John would not have been in this situaton.
Commenting on the issue via Facebook, a communications officer in the public service, said “shocked is too mild of a word” to describe the response from some persons to the speaker’s illness.
“Have we become such a politically tribal society that we have lost our humanity?” she questioned.
She continued: “I woke up this morning to my Facebook feed full of news of Hon. Leonne Theodore-John’s collapse in the House. What was even more horrifying is the vitriol and political rhetoric burgeoning from a serious health matter of a person – a human being.
“Yes, we know the issue of appointing a Deputy Speaker is contentious. Yes, we know the full commissioning of the Owen King EU Hospital is contentious. Yes, we know the St. Jude Hospital reconstruction is contentious. And yes, the motions and bills down for the day had differing views from the political spectrum. Does that give us a right to make puerile statements directed at the Speaker? Does it give us a right to mock her situation with such embarrassingly vile and illogical statements, especially when her status at this time has not been made public?
“Whether it were Hon. Andy Daniel, Claudius Francis, Peter Foster or Dr. Rosemarie Husbands-Mathurin or any other previously appointed presiding officer, the matter in question should not be the political affiliation but rather the well-being of the individual.”
Another communications specialist expressed similar sentiments: “It happened the final day in October. A month dedicated to breast cancer survivors, the majority of whom like the afflicted are women. This woman is one of our Warriors in Pink. For that alone. Can’t we just be human and have compassion towards each other? It’s not too much to ask. I know we are better than this. I hope the Honourable Speaker is well and if she isn’t, may she have a quick recovery.”
However, in the same field, had a slightly different view.
She said: “Unfortunately….. I can lay the responsibility at the feet of the Speaker. As the supreme authority in Parliament, it was her choice to continue entertaining requests to convene the Parliament without it being properly constituted with a deputy. As terrible as last night’s situation was, the final responsibility of what goes on in the House of Assembly does in fact lie with the Speaker. She allows her members to continue to disregard the constitutional requirement to appoint a deputy.”
A United Workers Party official also weighed in on the debate: “This is what politics have done to the minds of our people and it is indeed sad. We sit and fight over politicians, disrespect each other for their political choices if it doesnt match that of theirs but I witness on every lunch break how these guys go down to the lunch area, sit and chat with each other and drink the most expensive of liquor but we out here trying to kill each other for them.”
However, this response drew a stinging backlash from a member of the opposition St. Lucia Labour Party: “I am a member of Parliament in Saint Lucia. It is disgusting to read miss — post. “…I witness on every lunch break how these guys go down to the lunch area, sit and chat with each other and drink the most expensive of liquor…” . Miss — you have just brought the whole of Parliament into disrepute. I demand that you withdraw this lie …every lunch time we drink expensive liquor????? Wow.
“I can guarantee you that upon my return a formal letter will be written to the Speaker to examine your access to the House lunch room and other rooms of the Parliament . For if you can lie so blatantly, what else would you not do !Please prove your false accusation or withdraw your statement. Do you know what you have just done. That statement also by its nature has just accused the Hon. Leone Theodore- John of being complicit in that untrue act. I await your retraction or proof that Parliamentarians drink expensive liquor on every lunch break. I will also send your post to every parliamentarian for their attention and action.”
Reports are that the speaker remains hospitalised.