Friday, September 13, 2013

Kamla appoints Ganga as "caretaker" for St Joseph

Ganga Singh - caretaker for St Joseph
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has asked Senator Ganga Singh to be a "caretaker" for the St. Joseph constituency until a decision is made about the future of the constituency.

On Monday, Speaker of the House of Representatives Wade Mark declared the seat held by Herbert Volney vacant. He made the move following a request from Persad-Bissessar who told Mark that she had a constitutional obligation as leader of the United National Congress (UNC) to have the seat declared vacant since Volney had resigned from her party.

Mark agreed and now that Volney cannot sit in the House, the PM has taken the opportunity to appoint a member of the People's Partnership to be "caretaker" until Volney either accepts Mark's decision or goes to court to challenge. 

In statements following Monday's decision by the Speaker Volney has said he would go to court but he has also stated that he might let the decision stand and fight a byeelection.

Volney is now a member of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) led by Jack Warner and he has said Warner would represent the views of his constituents in Parliament. Warner has made no such commitment but has asked Volney not to mount a legal challenge and opt for a by-election.

Persad-Bissessar said on Thursday she doesn't want St. Joseph to be without representation. 

"Certainly they will not be able to raise those matters in the Parliament but through the rest of us who are all elected on a similar ticket, whether UNC or Partnership, we will take up their issues in the Parliament. I have asked Minister Ganga Singh to be caretaker, not MP, but to be the caretaker to coordinate the St. Joseph constituency."

She suggested that Volney should fight a byelection to determine if the people want him as their representative.

"I am of the respectful view that it is deceptive to go up on one party ticket and then become totally different, like a chameleon changing colours. We call it a 24-hours I think in Trinidad that you change your colour thereafter. 

"If that is so, that is your democratic right but it is the democratic right of the electorate to then say yes, I want you, I want you, I want green, I want yellow, I want red. That is the chameleon that changes the colour," she said.

Volney has 14 days from Monday to challenge the ruling or the seat would be formally vacant, making the way for a byelection within 90 days of the seat becoming vacant.

There will likely be a three way fight in that constituency with the People's National Movement (PNM), the ILP and the People's Partnership (PP). In the three way election in 2007 the PNM won the seat without winning a majority.

Here is what happened then: The PNM's Kennedy Swaratsingh won with 7,965 votes; The UNC Alliance came second with 4,945 and COP got 4,145 votes. The combined opposition vote was higher than the PNM's.

That was reversed in 2010 when Volney won the seat for the PP, defeating the PNM. The Congress of the People (COP) has expressed an interest in running its candidate in St Joseph as a member of the PP. 

With the departure of Volney and Warner from the UNC, the party now has 19 seats in the House of Representatives but the PP still has a strong majority with two members of The Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) and six COP members, making a total of 27. 

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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