Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Commentary: Volney cannot eat his cake and have it too

File: Herbert Volney campaigning as a UNC candidate in 2010
Herbert Volney says he is done with politics but at the same time he is fighting to hold on to his parliamentary seat as the MP for St Joseph. He is also insisting that he won't resign his seat and seek re-election in a byelection.

So what is likely to happen is that he will use a legal route to keep his seat while lawyers fight the matter out in the courts until the life of the Parliament ends, meaning he gets to keep the seat until 2015 even though he must know that there is something unethical about it.

In our electoral system, people vote for parties, so when a candidate stands up for a party she or he is representing the vision and the principles of that party. The electorate makes a choice and determines which party (and by extention which candidate) it supports. So when an individual wins an election as a representative of a party the reality is that the PARTY, not the INDIVIDUAL wins.

So if the elected member is no longer a member of the party - whether by choice is expelled - then the ethical thing for her or him to do is resign and seek reelection. The people voted for a set of principles that the MP represented and since she/he no longer abides by those principles the MP has a moral obligation to resign and present his/her new views and ask the people to endorse them. This has nothing to do with accusations.

Jack Warner did it and won because he was convinced that the people were with him and his victory in the Chaguanas West byelection demonstrated that he was right. 

But Volney's refusal to accept that he has an obligation to seek the endorsement of the people in a new election amounts to hypocrisy because today he is no longer representing the views for which the people voted. 

He has resigned from the United National Congress (UNC) and the party is within its right to ask for the seat to be declared vacant so it can get a new MP for St Joseph who would reflect its views, which the majority of the people of St Joseph accepted in the 2010 election. 

Remember this is the LAW. Clearly a well versed jurist like Volney ought to know that resigning from UNC under which party he was elected, meant that is the constitutional equivalent of resigning from the seat. If he did not, then it is no wonder that he failed as minister of justice. 

What Volney is doing by choosing a lengthy court case is frustrating the will of the people and hiding behind a legal issue to keep his MPs job, and all the perks that come with it, for as long as he can.

The evidence on the ground contradicts Volney's argument that the people are with him. 

The Express newspaper reported that he failed to attract any support when he invited Jack Warner to walk with him over the weekend. If the presence of Jack - who has been attracting large crowds in other constituencies - cannot get the people to come out in support of Volney then the message is clear: the people of St Joseph don't want Volney or Jack.

The real issue after the weekend walkabout is that Jack might not be so enthusiastic about courting the former judge, which explains why Volney is now saying he doesn't see himself as having a significant role in the ILP and why he is also saying he is done with politics.
Well here are some questions for Mr Volney.
  • If you are done with politics and have no significant role to play in the ILP, why fight this matter?
  • If you are so convinced that the people are behind you why are you afraid to do like Jack and prove it in a byelection? 
  • Are you honestly representing your constituents if you no longer share the views of the UNC and the PP?
  • Have you had a consultation with your constituents to solicit their views?
So if Volney truly believes in democracy and the rights of the people he should resign rather than wait for anyone to declare the seat vacant and then present his new views and agenda and ask for the people's endorsement.

And he must be prepared to do it in a free election so that the PNM and the UNC - or any of the PP partners - would also have an opportunity to seek the people's endorsement for what they represent. 

Anything less is a betrayal of the people and a message that political power is more important than the people's interest.

Jai Parasram - 02 Sept. 2013

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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