Saturday, August 31, 2013

Volney says he'll fight St Joseph seat again if he is forced to quit

File: St Joseph MP Herbert Volney
Herbert Volney has told the Guardian newspaper he will fight the St Joseph seat again if the seat is declared vacant.

Volney won the seat in the 2010 general election as the candidate for the United National Congress (UNC) but he has resigned as a member of the party and joined the new Independent Labour Party (ILP) led by former UNC Chairman, Jack Warner.

Warner quit as chairman the party after he left cabinet earlier this year and also resigned his Chaguanas West seat, which he won back in a byelection in July.

Section 49 (2) of the Constitution states:

A member of the House of Representatives shall also vacate his seat in the House where— (e) having been a candidate of a party and elected to the House, he resigns from or is expelled by that party.”

Section 49 A (1): “Where circumstances such as are referred to in section 49(2)(e) arise, the leader in the House of Representatives of the party as a candidate of which the member was elected, shall so inform the Speaker in writing of those circumstances and the Speaker shall, at the sitting of the House of Representatives next after he is so informed, make a declaration that the member has resigned from or has been expelled by the party, as the case may be.

Under these circumstances, Volney has created an opportunity to be expelled from the House. However he claims that this is not proper and legal since there must be Standing Orders to implement the rule.

In any case, he says if the seat is declared vacant he would go back to the polls as the candidate for St Joseph. “The Standing Orders have not been amended. If they want to remove me, do so legally, not illegally,” Volney told the Guardian.

What is not clear is whether he would run as an independent or as a candidate of the ILP, which he joined recently. Warner has stated that candidates running for his party must be approved by the membership so if Volney wants to be an ILP candidate he must get the nod from the St Joseph electorate as well as the ILP leadership.

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has confirmed that the Prime Minister has written to Speaker Wade mark on the issue after receiving sound legal advice.

Ramlogan told local media, "It is clear in the Constitution that Section 49 prohibits members who resign from the party upon whose ticket they were elected to serve in the Parliament, from resigning from that party and remaining in Parliament on the strength of that party.”

He added, "A letter was in fact written to the Speaker to indicate that as political leader of the party upon whose ticket Mr Volney was elected to serve in the Parliament, in light of his resignation, that steps be taken to deal with him in accordance with the Constitution and the laws." 

The AG said a byelection would follow so long as Volney doesn't challenge the move to have the seat declared vacant.

Ramlogan suggested that Volney should have done like Warner and resign his seat and go back to the people.

He noted that as far as he is aware Volney has joined another party. "He filled out an application form and he has in fact joined another party. It is a frustration and distortion of the democratic will of the people who elect you on one party’s ticket, for you to resign and go and join another party in mid-term, as the case may be.

“The correct thing would have been to do like Mr Warner did and to resign your seat seek a fresh mandate from the electorate on the party you intend to join and then you can resume your seat in Parliament, with the integrity of the democratic process intact,” Ramlogan told the Guardian. 

PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar has confirmed that the Volney matter was discussed at a recent UNC national executive meeting, but stated that Volney's decision to join another party did not influence any plan to have him vacate his seat.

“No. Mr Volney has resigned as a Member of the Parliament and therefore it was discussed as to what could or should happen. The law provides that where a person resigns from the party on whose ticket he was elected, he should also vacate his seat. That was the discussion.”

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai