As I sat within the not so hallowed halls of the House of Assembly on Tuesday I couldn’t help wondering when the shenanigans would begin. Would it start before the arrival of the Mace and the Speaker? Immediately after? I also wondered how many of the attendant MPs actually listened to the day’s prayer, delivered by the current captain of the Salvation Army, especially the admonition that “you should not lose zeal to do all the good that you could”.
Tuesday’s sitting was preceded by outpourings of love, love, love, with MPs from both sides brotherly-hugging one another. Or so it seemed on Laborie Street, outside the House. In the meantime a handful of protestors – former NICE workers whose contracts had run their course – shouted threats at the government MPs while over-zealous TV reporters shoved mics and cameras in their faces. More than the regular number of police hovered around them.
Inside the House, there were more exchanges of pleasantries, even as the protesters took their seats in the area of the gallery usually occupied by opposition supporters. An especially remarkable sight was Castries Southeast MP Guy Joseph sharing laughs with his defeated rival Joachim Henry. Also Castries South MP Ernest Hilaire up and close with Choiseul MP Bradley Felix. Dominic Fedee embraced every MP within reach.
But two MPs held their sections, both stone-faced: Castries Central MP Sarah Flood Beaubrun and the MP for Vieux Fort South Dr. Kenny Anthony who stayed close to those who until June 6 last year were referred to as his flock. His shepherd’s position now belonged to Philip J. Pierre, MP for Castries East.
The day’s session got under way with the ritual farce concerning the election of a deputy Speaker. There was a small difference this time around: MP for Gros Islet Lenard Montoute nominated Kenny Anthony. He declined “with alacrity”. Leader of the Opposition Phillip J Pierre was nominated by Soufriere MP Herold Stanislas. Pierre too declined.
On the basis that “you all taking the House for a pappy-show” Vieux Fort North MP Moses Jn Baptiste also turned down the Babonneau MP’s nomination.
The fireworks began when the Speaker announced that a motion by the Castries South MP had been deferred because the PM was not ready to debate it. Following several salvos between the Speaker and a protesting Hilaire, the opposition did what for several years they have done whenever there is disagreement in the House: they walked out en masse to be surrounded outside by thirsty press personnel bearing videocams and audio recorders. Perhaps the day’s most memorable aside came from Guy Joseph who had once questioned another Speaker about his role. This time around Joseph’s question was tossed at the Castries South MP: “You think that’s West Indies cricket board? You don’t know your role?” Doubtless the SLP’s private videographer captured enough of the excitement to keep Facebook addicts in stitches for a while, at least until the next House session!