Did Professor Antoine get it wrong?

Professor Rose Marie Belle Antoine.

Please permit me to elucidate your readers on sections of the Constitution, which in my view have been illogically and callously misrepresented by no less a person than professor Rose Marie Belle Antoine, a professor of law at the UWI when she attempted to answer questions posed to her from an online facebook questioner. The question was about Tuesday 13th September’s House sitting and her comments were reproduced in an article in the Saturday 17th September, 2011 issue of the Voice newspaper.
The professor, in trying to explain, relied on accepted principle of statutory interpretation and constitutional interpretation when in fact the Speaker of the House had indicated at an earlier sitting of the House, that what had been convention with regard to another practice in the House was wrong and that they needed to adopt the correct way in subsequent sittings. I have highlighted this to show that what has been the norm is not always right especially when legislation is not silent o the matter.
She also indicated that all references to Speaker includes reference to the Deputy Speaker which may be true, but I hasten to add only when the Deputy Speaker has assumed the seat of the Speaker. Regardless of what her personal opinion is on what the intent of the Constitution is or not, the fact remains that there are sections within the same Constitution which allows for the position of Deputy Speaker to remain vacant during a sitting of the House. As a result any reasonable person can conclude that it is not illegal for the House to sit, notwithstanding the position of Deputy Speaker may be vacant. This argument is supported by Section 35 (6) of the Constitution which states, “At anytime when by virtue of section 34(3) of this Constitution, the Speaker is unable to perform the functions of his office, those functions shall until he vacates his seat in the House or resumes the performance of the functions of his office, be performed by the Deputy Speaker or, if the office of the deputy speaker is “VACANT” or the Seputy Speaker is required to cease to perform his functions as a member of the house by virtue of that subsection, by such member of the house(not being a member of the cabinet or a parliamentary secretary) as the house may elect for the purpose.” (I.e. the  purpose of presiding as Speaker).
You should also note that the same concessions were not made for the position of Speaker as was made for the position of Deputy Speaker, as it is clear that the only thing that can be done when the office of Speaker is VACANT, is for the House to elect another Speaker so not even Deputy can sit for the Speaker if that position is vacant. This argument is supported by section 35 (3) of the constitution. To enforce the point further one may also look to section 44 and 53 of the Constitution.
As a result and not withstanding my limitations with respect to law and interpretation of it, I wish to state emphatically that the good professor got it all wrong on this occasion as there was nothing illegal or procedurally wrong with the way in which the Speaker presided at the sitting. Except to  say that there is nothing in the Constitution that could of itself cause the Speaker to compel the House to elect a Deputy Speaker at the next or subsequent sitting of the House or at her convenience. It should be done at the convenience of the House, meaning  when it does not interfere with the plans of those who constitute the House. Hence the reason  or the term convenience.  And that is the law.
—Concerned Citizen (Name Supplied)

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