BY STEPHEN LESTER PRESCOTT
PERHAPS the leap year may have something to do with it but even by the United Workers Party standards it has been a bizarre week. It is as if a madness has now overtaken their leading members as one after the other statements defying logic were uttered in the public domain.
Not surprisingly, it all began with Guy Joseph, Allen Chastanet’s trusted poodle. Last week Wednesday, speaking in support of the UWP’s Castries South candidate, and no doubt completely rattled by the Labour Party’s Joachim Henry’s strong presence in Castries South East, Guy Joseph launched a scathing attack on the Chief Justice and other judges of the Supreme Court. Readers will recall that following the government’s adoption of the Constituency Boundaries Commission’s recommendations to increase the island’s constituencies from 17 to 21, Guy Joseph had launched a legal challenge claiming, among other things, that Anthony Astaphan SC was not a proper person to represent the Commission. The judge at the High Court having told Joseph that he had no case against the Senior Counsel, Joseph took the matter to the Appeal Court which reserved judgment.
Microphone in hand and the sly mongoose type smile firmly etched on his face, Joseph would launch a blistering attack on the independence of the country’s judiciary accusing them of delaying tactics.
Speaking in Creole – that of course meant his political leader, Allen Chastanet, was unable to understand what he was saying – Joseph stated: “So I want to tell the lawyers something and I want to tell the judges something. You all heard a case in May. It have six months you all have not given a verdict. They say you not saying anything when you in court. That is nonsense and if the judge want me to talk to him, I can talk to him and I can take him on when I want. Because you cannot tell me you all was in a hurry to make the case, you all rented hotel to make the case because the court house was closed. You all rented Bay Gardens to make the case. When my lawyer comes down and he presented the case and in one day they heard the whole case and it have six months you all cannot give a verdict.”
Some months ago Guy Joseph disrespected the Office of the Speaker of the House – something he repeated recently – and now he attacks the Chief Justice and the other two Justices of Appeal who sat on the appeal. What is the motive of this unprovoked attack on the independence and integrity of the Court of Appeal judges? Why is Guy Joseph attempting to bring the Court of Appeal judges into the political arena? Why is Guy Joseph imputing improper motives to the Justices of the OECS Court of Appeal?
Why has Allen Chastanet not distanced himself from his poodle’s unsavoury comments? Is it because Chastanet himself still feels the sting of the judges having referred to him as a witness whose words could not be trusted, a witness who was not credible? Would it be farfetched to suggest that Chastanet approved Guy Joseph’s message?
If still in opposition Chastanet and Joseph show such disregard for the independence and integrity of the judges it is not difficult to imagine what would be done by them if they actually hold the reins of power. In this regard, the country needs to be reminded that under the last UWP government the security of a senior judicial officer was removed because a certain minister was upset by a particular court decision. Imagine that!
Guy Joseph is not alone in his disrespect for the rule of law in Saint Lucia for late last year Keith Mondesir, a man who once held the National Security portfolio no less, accused a High Court Judge of being in the back pocket of someone who was not even a party to the case. Not satisfied that he had attempted to defraud the State of Customs duties, rather than apologise for his misbehaviour, Mondesir instead attacks the judge. What next?
Are Mondesir and Guy Joseph unaware that had the Office of the DPP done the right thing that the two along with Chastanet and others in the UWP Cabinet of Ministers would have been hauled before the courts to face criminal charges? Did they not read the Court’s finding that the Cabinet of which they were members had acted improperly to prevent cover up Mondesir’s attempt at deceiving the Customs Department and avoid paying the fees which were due on the items he imported for his private house and which he lied about by saying it was for a hotel? Can these people ever again be trusted to hold governmental office?
Rather than reprimand Guy Joseph, Allen Chastanet would himself add his own insult to injury. Speaking at the same meeting he would attempt to hoodwink Saint Lucians into believing that he has always been a supporter of Universal Health Care. Clearly Allen Chastanet believes money can erase people’s memories. Sorry Allen, money cannot blind Saint Lucians to the truth. Saint Lucians remember only too well that you were part of the government which aborted the Universal Health Care programme so painstakingly put in place by the Labour government of 1997 – 2006. Saint Lucians know you have done nothing to respond to Prime Minister Anthony’s call for a bi-partisan approach to consider Health Care Financing.
Saint Lucians understand fully that you did not then and do not now support the Prime Minister’s nomination of Stephenson King to head the Committee. Not satisfied with the humiliation which you have over the past three years heaped on the former Prime Minister, we are well aware that the last thing you would want is for Stephenson King to hold any position of prominence. We haven’t forgotten how you treated him following his meeting with Prime Minister Anthony in the aftermath of the Christmas Eve trough. So your cheap political trick of promising health care financing on a political platform in return for votes will not fly.
The people of Saint Lucia have seen the shallowness that is Chastanet’s brand of politics; selfish and self-centred. A brand of politics where money buys loyalty. A brand of politics where the people do not matter. A politics where being Prime Minister takes precedence over all else. A politics where humiliating the Prime Minister under whom you served for four years is acceptable.
We have moved passed the Massa days. The people know it was Labour who took them into Adult Suffrage and it is Labour who will remain with Labour’s politics of “we” and keep out Chastanet’s politics of “me”. We much prefer Kenny’s politics of inclusion to Chastanet’s politics of exclusion.