Gov't flex one-seat ma­jor­ity mus­cle; op­po­si­tion cries foul

In at­tempt to split St Cather­ine Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion ...

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Jo­van Johnson Staff Re­porter jo­van.johnson@glean­erjm.com

THE GOV­ERN­MENT could use its one-seat ma­jor­ity in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives to ap­prove leg­is­la­tion that would split Port­more from the St Cather­ine Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion.

If suc­cess­ful in Par­lia­ment, sep­a­ra­tion would make it ad­van­ta­geous for the Ja­maica Labour Party (JLP) to con­trol St Cather­ine in lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions sched­uled for Novem­ber 28.

St Cather­ine com­prises 41 di­vi­sions, 12 of which are from Port­more. The sep­a­ra­tion would leave it with 29 di­vi­sions.

In the 2012 elec­tions, the JLP won 15 of the non-Port­more St Cather­ine di­vi­sions and the Peo­ple’s Na­tional Party the other 14.

Yes­ter­day, the Gov­ern­ment tabled a bill in Par­lia­ment that pro­poses the sep­a­ra­tion and ap­peared in­tent on seek­ing its pas­sage. How­ever, the Op­po­si­tion pushed back, say­ing the Gov­ern­ment needed to con­sult with the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of Ja­maica (ECJ).

The Gov­ern­ment agreed, but said the de­bate would take place to­day.

Leader of Op­po­si­tion Busi­ness Phillip Paulwell left the cham­ber an­gry that the Gov­ern­ment was ‘rush­ing’ the pas­sage of the leg­is­la­tion. “It is, there­fore, in­ap­pro­pri­ate the mat­ter be­ing re­ferred to the ECJ for them to do a rec­om­men­da­tion, for the bill to be tabled. It is re­ally forc­ing the hands of the ECJ.”

‘TAM­PER­ING WITH DEMOC­RACY’

Paulwell also ar­gued that a sit­ting to­day was not on a sched­ule he re­ceived from Smith for the rest of the year. “This is a dis­grace! It is an abuse of the Gov­ern­ment’s power. I am urg­ing that this mat­ter of treat­ing the Op­po­si­tion with dis­dain be halted now.”

“We’re tam­per­ing with the democ­racy of our coun­try. This Op­po­si­tion will not al­low it,” he di­rected at the prime min­is­ter, cit­ing his con­cerns that the ECJ was be­ing pres­sured to sup­port a gov­ern­ment po­si­tion.

That com­ment drew loud con­dem­na­tion from gov­ern­ment mem­bers who fired back in­sults at op­po­si­tion mem­bers who shouted their sup­port of Paulwell.

When Speaker Pear­nel Charles even­tu­ally re­gained con­trol of the House, Smith said he had a dis­cus­sion with Paulwell about the sched­ule but “things have changed, and it is the busi­ness of the Gov­ern­ment to de­cide when the House will meet.

“The leader of op­po­si­tion busi­ness made a com­ment which is a very dan­ger­ous com­ment to sug­gest that we’re tam­per­ing with democ­racy. The bill to which the mem­ber refers is a bill to ac­tu­ally en­hance the democ­racy of the coun­try,” Hol­ness said, re­ject­ing the al­le­ga­tions of ‘tam­per­ing’.

“There is no sin­is­ter mo­tive; it is merely the speed at which Gov­ern­ment has to work. We will be here (Gordon House) to­mor­row (Wed­nes­day) and we would love to see you,” he added to desk bang­ing from his side with a strain of “des­per­a­tion” ris­ing above from Denise Da­ley, op­po­si­tion MP for St Cather­ine Eastern.

HOL­NESS

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