Statement to the House of Representatives On the No-Confidence Motion against PM Hon. Tillman Thomas
May 15, 2012
Mr. Speaker, this debate today constitutes another watershed moment in the political life of Grenada.
I rise to speak against the backdrop of my having resigned from the Cabinet of Ministers a few weeks ago. I stated on that occasion my reasons for resigning and little or nothing has happened in the ensuing period to cause me to second guess that decision.
Indeed, from the response I have received from constituents of the Town of St. George and others in Grenada, I believe I did the correct and principled thing in resigning and permitting the Honorable Prime Minister to proceed with the governance of this country as he sees fit.
My action then, Mr. Speaker, was borne out of a fundamental love for my party and country. My action today, in this debate, shall be no different.
Mr. Speaker, I have not disguised my own difficulty with the management style of the Honorable Prime Minister. Indeed, I have been vilified by some in my own party for speaking frankly to the issue of my leader’s reluctance to embrace differing ideas and opinions, both from within and outside the National Democratic Congress. That smear campaign, Mr. Speaker, continues unabated.
I have fundamental concerns about the prioritization, or lack thereof, of several key projects and initiatives. I am not in full agreement with some of the fiscal measures pursued by the government and generally I have a fundamental difference with my leader on how the issue of poverty reduction and social rehabilitation could, and should be, pursued.
Nothing I have said here so far, Mr. Speaker, is new. I have demonstrated, by resigning from the Cabinet, how strong and firm my resolve is to ensure that certain things are done differently.
When I resigned two weeks ago, Mr. Speaker, I was deliberate in not resigning as General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress or as a Member of this Honorable Chamber as the Member of Parliament for the Town of St. George. I resigned from the Cabinet because, under the Westminster System of Government that we follow, the Cabinet is that of the Prime Minister; and those who differ fundamentally with how the Cabinet and – by extension – the government is run, should follow the age old convention of resigning. And that is exactly what I did.
But I have also examined the very serious situation that confronts us in Grenada today. I sense that there are many persons who are not happy with the style of leadership of our Prime Minister and Political Leader.
I understand clearly why the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues would have initiated and brought this Vote of No Confidence; because that, Mr. Speaker, is the ultimate tool of an opposition party. Perhaps, if I were in opposition, I would be persuaded to do the same. But I am not.
I am in the fortunate position where I can stand back from the frontline and assess the situation carefully and clinically. I am persuaded that a decision such as a rethink of the leadership of the government ought not to be taken in the absence of, or without prior consultation with, the people that elected that leader.
The Constitution of Grenada says clearly that the Prime Minister shall be the person who commands the support of the majority of parliamentarians in this Honorable Chamber. Mr. Speaker, that person, more often than not, would be the Political Leader of the governing party, popularly elected by the members of that party.
I am persuaded that if a review of that leadership is to be initiated and made, it ought to be done by the membership of the party that voted for, and endorsed, the ascension of that leader. That is the proper and correct thing to do!
I do not believe, Mr. Speaker, that a leader, popularly elected by hundreds of persons at a party conference, should be dislodged by a simple majority of eight of 15 elected members. That, to my mind, robs the people of their right to decide!
Any such change must be the verdict of those who elected that leader!
I believe that the stewardship of our leader as Prime Minister cannot be divorced from his leadership as Political Leader of the ruling party, for that is how he qualified to become Prime Minister in the first place.
I do not propose to spell out on this occasion my views on the stewardship of the Prime Minister and Political Leader, or how for that matter, I would vote if – and when – given an opportunity to so do.
What I would say on this occasion, nevertheless, is that I will not support a motion, brought by the Opposition, that seeks to repose judgment on the stewardship of the leader in the hands of 15 individuals.
Even though as Parliamentarians we act as representatives of the people and we speak and vote in this Parliament on the basis of what we believe the will and wishes of the people are and ought to be, I draw the line when it comes to removing the leader.
We must hear first from the membership of the National Democratic Congress!
I propose, as a member of the National Democratic Congress and as a Parliamentarian who has some fundamental concerns about the trend that is developing in our party and government, to initiate a process whereby the issues we are concerned about will be dealt with within the mechanism and constitution of the party.
I believe firmly that ultimate power must rest in the hands of the people. I would wish to discover whether persons in the party, from across the length of this beautiful country, including our sister islands, feel as many of us do, that there is need for a rethink of the direction in which we are headed as a country and a party.
Accordingly, Mr. Speaker, I speak not only for myself but I believe I represent the views of others on this side of the Chamber who believe strongly that this motion, brought by the Opposition, is not the preferred route to a meaningful and lasting solution to any real or perceived problems in the leadership of our party and our country.
This motion is opposed on the grounds that it is not the answer to our problems. Support for this motion would initiate a crisis period in the conduct of business and day to day activity in this country. It would send the wrong signal to the local, regional and international investment community that wishes for nothing less than continued peace and stability in Grenada.
I will not support this motion, Mr. Speaker; not because I do not see merit in some of the submissions of the Opposition; there is merit in some of the submissions of the Opposition; but because I do not see the success of this motion as taking us closer to resolution of the problems that beset this party in government.
I have been a member of the NDC for many years and I am in touch and in tune with the membership of our party. I believe in the strength and capacity of that party to handle any awkward situation that might arise. I still believe in the ability of the NDC to take stock and recover from what, and from where, some may describe as a precarious situation.
The voters of this country went to the polls and voted overwhelmingly for this government. It was their wish to have the NNP administration replaced by an NDC government. I do not sense that that wish and resolve have changed. I do not believe that as 15 parliamentarians we should seek to take it into our hands to alter or circumvent the will of the people.
Accordingly, Mr. Speaker, I hereby serve notice that we will oppose this motion of no-confidence. At the same time, we also serve notice that we will initiate and support the tabling of the appropriate measure within our party to trigger an examination and review of the stewardship of our party and government since assuming office in 2008.
When that is done and the people have spoken, we would then, as NDC Parliamentarians, have a much better perspective of what our role and posture should be in a situation such as this. Ultimately power resides in the people, not in 15 Parliamentarians, on an important issue such as this.
Until then, Mr. Speaker, I cannot support this motion.
I thank you and may God bless you.©