Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Letter: Speaker acted correctly in Volney matter

I saw the Press Release distributed this morning (sept. 18, 2013) "under the authority of the Member of Parliament for St. Joseph" and wish to comment as follows:

1. The release is not signed by Justice Volney: it is signed by Mark Dolsingh, Manager, St Joseph Constituency Office of the Member of Parliament (for St Joseph).

Why didn't Justice Volney sign the release for himself?

2. Mark Dolsingh outlines five grounds on which Justice Volney disagrees with the Speaker's decision to begin the 14-day countdown towards having Justice Volney's seat declared vacant. The second ground is the linchpin—the Constitution required the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives to be amended in order for the Speaker to trigger the countdown.

What the Constitution actually says is that:

"49A(5) Standing Orders shall make provision for the identification and recognition of the leader in the House of Representatives of every party and for otherwise giving effect to this section."

The question is, does the auxiliary verb "shall" mean that, at the time the Constitution was amended, the Standing Orders contained no provision which allowed any Speaker to do such a thing?

Like the Speaker, I am adamant the Standing Orders did (and still do), since Standing Orders 92(1) and (2), both of which predate Section 49A, state:

"The Speaker shall have power to regulate the conduct of business in all matters not provided for in these Standing Orders.
"The decision in all cases for which these Standing Orders do not provide, shall lie within the discretion of the Speaker, and shall not be open to challenge."

3. Previously, I'd indicated Justice Volney can only go to Court to save his seat by proving Section 49A(2) of the Constitution applied to him:

" challenge the allegation that he has resigned or to challenge his expulsion..."
He dismissively replied he has options under Section 52 of the Constitution. However, Section 52 provides an escape hatch only for a parliamentarian who has vacated his seat or is required, under the provisions of section 43(3)or section 49(3), to cease to exercise any of his functions as a Senator or as a member of the House of Representatives."

The positioning of the commas before and after the phrase

", under the provisions of section 43(3)or section 49(3)," is crucial. If those punctuation marks weren't there, confusion could reign. The fact that they're there means the phrase strictly qualifies the circumstances under which Justice Volney could've relied on Section 52.

For the record, both Sections 43(3) and 49(3) relate to situations where an incumbent parliamentarian falls into circumstances which would have disqualified him from being elected in the first place, e.g. 
"is under sentence of death or imprisonment, is mentally ill, declared bankrupt or convicted of an offence relating to elections".

I don't yet believe Justice Volney has gone so far as to make any of those caps fit him!

In light of the above, I recommend he takes a graceful exit gracefully so time could start working on his redemption as it did for Nixon for he's a cerebrational man.

Heston Corbie | 69 Prizgar Lands, Laventille.

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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