By now there can hardly be a living creature on this Rock of Sages unfamiliar with the following all too often misstated admonition: “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” Credit a certain weekly-televised show whose host, by unending repetition, has turned the above quoted line into something of a mantra. On the other hand it’s a safe bet even our local best brains know not that “a child educated only at school is an uneducated child” also proceeded from the great mind of George Santayana.
Predictably, the ever controversial—not always a bad thing!—Sarah Flood-Beaubrun is once again dominating local news programs, with faceless Facebook Don Quixotes firing in all directions their cardboard bullets from their cardboard guns. Then again, there was hardly a time when the lady was not for burning by the gentlemen flame throwers of the Saint Lucia Labour Party.
In 1997 an advertised 21-year-old child of God named Menissa Rambally and an unmarried, slightly older Sarah Flood had united not only to convince the electorate of their own virtuousness but also that Kenny Anthony was the long-awaited deliverer from the two-faced Compton-Lewis chimera. Kenny’s angels were similarly persuasive in 2001. But by 2003 a gnawing pain in the stomach of the now Mrs. Sarah Flood-Beaubrun had become near intolerable. It didn’t help when her pleas that Cabinet meetings kick off with a prayer of thanks to the Almighty fell on ears that would not hear or were received with naked scorn.
It all came to a head in November 2003 when a bill that sought to make some abortions legal came before parliament. The ensuing debate is generally considered one of the most distasteful, depressing and embarrassing ever witnessed in Saint Lucia’s parliament, second only, perhaps, to the unforgettable Mace-tossing debacle of 1982.
With the consent of her prime minister Flood-Beaubrun addressed the bill with the conscience of a pro-life advocate while her fellow MPs on both sides of the table jeered. Perhaps the deepest cut of all was delivered by the Seventh Day Adventist Menissa Rambally, who let it be known she was “completely at ease” with the bill’s provisions. Her Brutus dagger up to the hilt in Flood-Beaubrun’s back, Labour Minister Rambally said: “Let us not couch this debate as pro-life and pro-choice. This debate, when you place it within the context of Saint Lucia’s social reality, deals with what the realities are on the ground right now . . . call me a murderer if you want, call me pro-abortion, call me whatever you want.”
Earlier, Flood-Beaubrun had hissed: “Abortionists do not want to be called murderers. But if you kill you should expect to be called a murderer. And if you are an abettor or accomplice you are as culpable as the perpetrator himself. Mr. Speaker, they are child killers . . . abortionists and child killers . . . I make no apologies. If we pass this piece of legislation we are accomplices to murder and child killing . . .”
She found not a single supporter of her views. Only attackers, both of what she had actually said and of her unspoken religious beliefs. Days later the axe came down on her unprotected neck. The prime minister kicked her out of his Cabinet, on the premise that she had abused the freedom he’d given her to speak her mind on the subject of abortion.
Shortly before the 2006 general elections Flood-Beaubrun resigned from the Saint Lucia Labour Party. But not before she had clashed yet again with the prime minister over her claim that his answer to overwhelming crime in his constituency was to plead with criminals in Vieux Fort to “give the people a break for Christmas.” The prime minister protested. He assured the House the statement attributed to him was a concoction cooked up by the opposition UWP and the media. He demanded that Flood-Beaubrun either present proof of her assertion or withdraw it. When it seemed the Speaker might evict her the MP reluctantly withdrew her statement. Weeks later, by which time the UWP had formed the government, a local TV station featured a video that proved beyond doubt Flood-Beaubrun had spoken nothing but the truth.
And now they’re at it again. Having successfully contested the June 6 elections after just three weeks of campaigning against an incumbent Sarah is once again under SLP attack, this time for resigning her unpaid deputy speaker position to take control of several portfolios including responsibility for the public service and external affairs. Her resignation leaves vacant the office of deputy speaker and the SLP has been insisting one be elected at the very next sitting of the House, despite the constitution seems to say a new deputy speaker must be elected “as soon as convenient.”
It’s an old argument centered on the interpretation of the word “convenient”—the ordinary meaning of which is: “Suited or favorable to one’s comfort, purpose, or needs.”
Predictably, the SLP itself has refused—as in 2006 and 2011—to offer a candidate for the vacant position, on the ground it would “not be in the best interests of our party.”
Put another way, for the SLP to offer one of its six parliamentarians for the job would not jibe with the party’s purpose or its needs. It simply would not be, er, convenient.
The latest word from party headquarters is that legal advice on what to do about the present situation is being sought. With bated breath the nation waits for the next sitting of parliament scheduled for August 2016. Perhaps we the people will get lucky and someone will dig up Suzie d’Auvergne’s sidelined proposals for constitutional reform. We still can dream, can’t we?