Will Leader of the Opposition’s Apology Be Accepted by Committee?

Will Leader of the Opposition’s Apology Be Accepted by Committee?

Will the Leader of the opposition’s letter of apology be accepted by the Privileges Committee? It’s yet to be seen but Barrow believes his “reset” was more than ample. Yesterday, Barrow sent a letter to Valerie Woods where no direct apology was offered to the Speaker.  Of the 313 words in the email, the line closest to an apology was, quote, “It is in this vein that I write hoping for a reset between the Office of the Speaker and the Office of the Leader and his Opposition Members so we can conduct the business of the People’s House in an orderly manner that brings maximum benefit to the people we serve.” Barrow has also sent a letter to the Constitution and Foreign Affairs Committee requesting that the comments made by Minister Abelardo Mai and Prime Minister John Briceno toward Tracey Panton be discussed. While the decision is ultimately left up to the committee, Minister Francis Fonseca, a member of the committee, explained today that in his opinion Shyne did apologize. 

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education: “I think I can only speak for me, I’m a member of that committee. You know, I think you know George Price used to always say to us as young students, let not the best be the enemy of the good. So you know I think listen, the Leader of the Opposition went from a very hard line position of no apology and, you know, very obnoxious and arrogant in my view, to a position where he is admitting, I believe, certainly accept it as an apology. But of course, that’s not a decision for me to make. Ultimately, the speaker will have to be satisfied that it is an apology, in her view. And then the committee, I imagine, the Constitutional and Foreign Affairs Committee, Privileges Committee will take a look at it. But speaking for myself. I am satisfied that he has satisfactorily responded as he was called upon by so many members. I see no merit or substance in what he is requesting. This is completely different. Across the aisle, everybody gets a little bit offensive from time to time. You know, in a sense, that’s what we sign up for the hurly-burly of politics. I know some people don’t like it but that’s the reality of politics. On the house floor, we are on the house floor. So, you know, I think we should always, of course, have great respect and regard for each other and our female members in particular.”

PUP Chairman Henry Charles Usher also weighed in on the letter, saying that he believes Barrow has seen the errors of his ways.

Henry Charles Usher, Constitutional and Political Reform and Religious Affairs Minister: “I only heard that an apology or a semi-apology was given, but I haven’t actually seen it. Well, I think as I reminded him in the House, Section 38.8 standing orders is very clear that the conduct of the Speaker cannot be questioned unless a proper motion is brought. He’s aware of that. I saw him reading the book in the House meeting when the section was pointed out to him. So I believe he understands that he should not have done what he did. Sending that email was improper of him. Calling into question the conduct of the Speaker was improper of him. Because when you call into question the chair or the speaker, you’re calling into question the entire process of the House. So it’s good that he sent that apology. I haven’t had a chance to read it, but certainly it’s not – the apology wasn’t to me, it was to the Speaker. So I believe that question as to whether the apology is fit or not is something that the Speaker would have to answer. Now as to the request to the Privileges Committee to look at what happened in the House, that is well within the rights and the Privileges Committee can decide to look at that, make recommendations to the house going forward as well.”

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