Opposition parliamentarian Guy Joseph has accused House Speaker Peter Foster of acting like a politician yesterday, while stating that Foster was unable to point to any Standing Orders that could bar him from speaking.
Joseph was referring to the confrontation between himself and Foster over his questions about the Laborie Banse Road project, for which he (Joseph) claims is filled with discrepancies.
The Castries South East MP told a media conference today (July 8) that he feels that the speaker was the one who was “out of order” and was angered by his questioning.
“I saw when I was speaking, the speaker was going through the Standing Orders, but apparently he got nothing to interrupt me, so he decided to put on his hat as a lawyer and start interpreting law for me,” he added.
Joseph said the project is highly questionable and noted that he was just trying to establish whether the signatories of the contract, Alison Gajadhar and Rayneau Gajadhar, have any relation.
Alison Gajadhar is the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure, while Rayneau Gajadhar is the contractor for which the project was awarded to by the government.
“Why is that such a sensitive matter? Why is the speaker so sensitive about this whole matter? I don’t care what the speaker’s relationships with persons are… when I come to transact business in the parliament of Saint Lucia it is not my personal business I am coming to discuss,” he added.
Joseph said he believes he should have been allowed to ask more questions and get a reasonable response. The opposition MP said the government could have responded, but instead the speaker opted to offer some explanation.
He noted that the $31 million project only has one page of bill of quantities, stating that it is ridiculous, and that the money for this project must be properly accounted for.
“I will stand to defend the rights of the people of Saint Lucia, because when I stand in Parliament to speak, I represent the second largest constituency in Saint Lucia and I have a right to speak. So the speaker must know his place and if anybody deserves an apology is me,” he asserted.
Joseph said he was not disrespectful to the speaker, but instead advised him that if he wants to join the debates he should become a politician, but if he wants to be speaker he has to be fair and unbiased.
“When I try to bring a point, he said we are not debating things of the past. But every time the government goes and digs up something that happened 20 years ago the speaker allows it,” Joseph complained.
He continued: “You think I am going to continue to go to Parliament and be pushed around by the speaker who was not elected by anyone in Saint Lucia, other than by the parliamentarians on the government side? I will not allow this to happen to me. I can say to the speaker, if he is going to engage me in debate in the house again, he can be rest assured the same thing will happen.”