GRYN­BERG! A CON­STI­TU­TIONAL CRI­SIS!

----Gover­nor Gen­eral

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE - By Rick Wayne

A ccord­ing to Mark 6:4: “A prophet is not with­out honor ex­cept in his own town, among his rel­a­tives, and in his own home.” I sus­pect no other Saint Lu­cian took more se­ri­ously the apos­tle’s pro­nounce­ment than did the late great Sir Vin­cent Flois­sac. Which is not to say his wise coun­sel was never ap­pre­ci­ated by a fel­low coun­try­man.

Among the highly ap­pre­ci­ated lessons Sir Vin­cent taught me was that, although uni­ver­sally con­sid­ered the King of Beasts, no lion ever was so much a jack­ass as to at­tack a crocodile in the churn­ing Zam­bezi.

Last week it may have ap­peared to the deaf, the numb and the blinded that I had dived mind­lessly into crocodile-in­fested wa­ters when I called Shel­ton Daniel’s morn­ing show on RSL to of­fer my side in a de­bate cen­tered on a now fa­mous Gov­ern­ment House cor­re­spon­dence dated 3 June 2013 and ad­dressed to then leader of the op­po­si­tion Stephen­son King.

Dame Pear­lette’s mis­sive was in re­sponse to King’s “ex­pressed con­cern that the gover­nor gen­eral’s au­thor­ity may have been usurped and that an illegal act may have been com­mit­ted, pre­sum­ably by one of the par­ties in­volved in a con­trac­tual ar­range­ment/ agree­ment drawn up in March 2000, be­tween then Prime Min­is­ter Dr. Kenny An­thony on be­half of the gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia and one Mr. Jack Gryn­berg, CEO of RSM Pro­duc­tion Cor­po­ra­tion of Den­ver, Colorado.”

King’s let­ter was dated 13 May 2013. Dame Pear­lette’s cal­cu­lated re­sponse: “On this mat­ter I can only say that I have no per­sonal or first-hand knowl­edge of any con­tract, ar­range­ment or agree­ment made by any­one or en­tity in or out­side gov­ern­ment with Mr. Jack Gryn­berg or his Cor­po­ra­tion. No such agree­ment or ar­range­ment was ever brought to my at­ten­tion in my ca­pac­ity as gover­nor gen­eral. That sub­ject was never dis­cussed with me, not even as part of the ‘enor­mous in­ves­tiga­tive ef­forts’ which you in­di­cated were ini­ti­ated by the Min­istry of Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs dur­ing your ad­min­is­tra­tion. My ad­vice was never sought and I played no part what­so­ever in any­thing that may have tran­spired then or at any time sub­se­quently.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, the gover­nor gen­eral hissed: “Notwith­stand­ing the pro­vi­sions of Sec­tion 65 of the Con­sti­tu­tion of Saint Lu­cia, no prime min­is­ter from March 2000 (the date you cited) has taken up this sub­ject with me, nei­ther, ad­mit­tedly, have I re­quested any in­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to it . . . Sadly the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion re­flects only too poignantly the gen­eral per­cep­tion (and delu­sion) that the role of gover­nor gen­eral in our gov­er­nance sys­tem is purely cer­e­mo­nial. Ex­cept, it would ap­pear, when we are faced with a con­sti­tu­tional or le­gal cri­sis, as this one seems to be.”

I formed the im­pres­sion, soon af­ter land­ing in Daniel’s den, that his pur­pose for go­ing where no other lion tamer had gone be­fore was to clear once and for all the pun­gent black smoke around Gryn­berg and per­haps put to rest be­fore the elec­tion bell rings again two par­tic­u­larly noi­some ques­tions: 1) Did the prime min­is­ter act il­le­gally when he signed that ear­lier cited March 2000 agree­ment with Jack Gryn­berg? And 2): Did he act con­trary to law when qui­etly the prime min­is­ter handed the no­to­ri­ous Amer­i­can oil­man a li­cense to ex­plore some 83 mil­lion acres of the Saint Lu­cia seabed?

As I un­der­stood Daniel’s ques­tion to his first longdis­tance guest, a for­mer at­tor­ney gen­eral of An­tigua, it sought a le­gal opin­ion as to whether the prime min­is­ter was au­tho­rized—notwith­stand­ing Saint Lu­cia’s Min­er­als (Vest­ing) Act—to is­sue ex­plo­ration li­censes. More­over, whether the prime min­is­ter was by law re­quired to in­form the gover­nor gen­eral of his of­fi­cial re­la­tion­ship with Jack Gryn­berg.

It was hardly news that the gover­nor gen­eral had long grown ac­cus­tomed to of­fi­cial life in the dark. Her let­ter to the leader of the op­po­si­tion, wherein she ref­er­enced Gryn­berg, merely con­firmed the pop­u­lar sus­pi­cion. There is noth­ing on the of­fi­cial record to sug­gest any mem­ber of the prime min­is­ter’s Cab­i­net was privy to the agree­ment be­tween the gov­ern­ment and Jack Gryn­berg—or that they had ever dis­cussed the thorny sub­ject.

Hansard fea­tures not a word not a word not a word sup­port­ive of any sug­ges­tion that be­fore seal­ing his deal with Gryn­berg the prime min­is­ter had con­sulted with his House col­leagues. Not in 2000, and cer­tainly not since. Gryn­berg has never ap­peared on the agenda of the Saint Lu­cia par­lia­ment!

The An­tiguan politi­cian and lawyer sought to es­tab­lish the ab­sence from Saint Lu­cia’s con­sti­tu­tion of any word that speaks against what the prime min­is­ter had done in 2000 rel­a­tive to Gryn­berg. Pre­dictably, the An­tiguan’s ob­ser­va­tion was en­thu­si­as­ti­cally en­dorsed by the prime min­is­ter’s lawyer for all sea­sons, also a tun­nelvi­sioned cam­paigner for the prime min­is­ter’s party. An­thony Astaphan was hardly a stranger to po­lit­i­cal Saint Lu­cia.

Talk about kan­ga­roo courts; talk about con­flict of in­ter­est and deep rivers teem­ing with in­sa­tiable li­on­bait­ing crocs. At one point dur­ing Shel­ton Daniel’s re­called 90-minute ra­dio pro­gram I was moved to ask the host—with re­spect, of course!—if he ac­tu­ally ex­pected the prime min­is­ter’s premier de­fender, or the prime min­is­ter’s fel­low politi­cian from An­tigua, to say on-air their friend and col­league may have con­tra­vened the Saint Lu­cia Con­sti­tu­tion. Daniel’s re­sponse came close to sug­gest­ing my ques­tion was down­right trea­sonous—which was hardly sur­pris­ing, bear­ing in mind the pe­cu­liar­i­ties of his own pro­fes­sional cir­cum­stances.

In any event the OECS’ largely un­scarred le­gal equiv­a­lent of May­weather was soon el­bow­ing his op­po­nent be­hind the shel­ter of Sec­tion 42 of the In­ter­pre­ta­tion Act: “Where the func­tion of the gover­nor gen­eral un­der an en­act­ment is to be ex­er­cised in ac­cor­dance with the ad­vice of Cab­i­net, any in­stru­ment re­quired to be is­sued in the ex­er­cise of that func­tion, other than a Procla­ma­tion, war­rant or in­stru­ment to be is­sued un­der the Public Seal, may be sig­ni­fied un­der the hand of the sec­re­tary of the Cab­i­net, and such sig­ni­fi­ca­tion is suf­fi­cient for all pur­poses.”

Ad­di­tion­ally: “Where a func­tion of the gover­nor gen­eral un­der any en­act­ment is to be ex­er­cised in ac­cor­dance with the ad­vice of a min­is­ter act­ing un­der the gen­eral au­thor­ity of the Cab­i­net, any in­stru­ment re­quired to be is­sued in the ex­er­cise of that func­tion, other than a Procla­ma­tion, or in­stru­ment to be is­sued un­der the Public Seal, may be sig­ni­fied un­der the hand of the

Min­is­ter act­ing un­der the gen­eral au­thor­ity of the Cab­i­net, and such sig­ni­fi­ca­tion is suf­fi­cient for all pur­poses.”

It seemed to me I had con­fronted yet another case of pre­sumed might be­ing right re­gard­less, with one side declar­ing it­self cor­rect only by virtue of its ma­jor­ity and their pro­fes­sion.

Nev­er­the­less, my nat­u­ral mind, that is to say my mind un­fet­tered by the ex­pec­ta­tions of red or yel­low pup­peteers, tells me there is not the small­est con­nec­tion be­tween the above-quoted pas­sages (with my ital­ics) and my con­tention that when the prime min­is­ter is­sued an ex­plo­ration li­cense to Jack Gryn­berg in 2000 he acted con­trary to the Min­er­als (Vest­ing) Act that states: “A per­son shall not prospect for or mine min­er­als ex­cept by the au­thor­ity of a li­cense granted by the gover­nor gen­eral and in ac­cor­dance with the terms and con­di­tions spec­i­fied in the li­cense. Any per­son who con­tra­venes the pro­vi­sions of Sub­sec­tion (1) of this Sec­tion com­mits an of­fence and is li­able on sum­mary con­vic­tion to a fine not ex­ceed­ing $1000 and to a fur­ther fine not ex­ceed­ing $50 for each day dur­ing which the con­tra­ven­tion con­tin­ues.”

Noth­ing in the im­me­di­ately above re­lates to the In­ter­pre­ta­tion Act that at Sec­tion 42 con­cerns it­self only with the con­di­tions un­der which the Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary or a min­is­ter act­ing un­der the gen­eral au­thor­ity of Cab­i­net “may” sign cer­tain in­stru­ments. The Min­eral (Vest­ing) Act em­pow­ers the gover­nor gen­eral, yes, the gover­nor gen­eral alone, to is­sue ex­plo­ration li­censes.

If a prime min­is­ter should de­cide for what­ever pur­pose to trim a gover­nor gen­eral’s wings, so to speak, he needs first to seek the au­thor­ity of par­lia­ment. Which raises another ques­tion: does the gov­ern­ment have the au­thor­ity, based solely on its ma­jor­ity, to con­ve­niently re­write the Min­er­als (Vest­ing) Act—or to pre­tend it does not ex­ist?

We re­turn now to the gover­nor gen­eral’s loaded let­ter. Dur­ing last week’s phone-in lop­sided de­bate some­one self­serv­ingly sug­gested, in ef­fect, that had the gover­nor gen­eral been of the view her au­thor­ity un­der the Min­er­als (Vest­ing) Act had been il­le­gally usurped she would’ve so stated in her let­ter of 3 June 2013.

Oh yeah? The Dame is demon­stra­bly far too in­tel­li­gent, not to say too ex­pe­ri­enced, to leave her­self vul­ner­a­ble to swamp an­i­mal idio­syn­cra­sies. And any­way, who made her judge, jury and ex­e­cu­tioner? The gover­nor gen­eral was asked to share with the leader of the House op­po­si­tion what she knew about the Gryn­berg con­tract. As it turned out, the gover­nor gen­eral had noth­ing to share.

In­deed her an­swer might well have be­gun and ended with “I have no per­sonal or first-hand knowl­edge of any con­tract . . . be­tween the Prime min­is­ter Dr. Kenny An­thony and one Mr. Jack Gryn­berg.” Oh, but the lady had her own smart bombs to drop on the heads of an in­quis­i­tive for­mer, and a se­cre­tive cur­rent, prime min­is­ter: “Notwith­stand­ing the pro­vi­sions of Sec­tion 65 of the Con­sti­tu­tion of Saint Lu­cia, no prime min­is­ter from March 2000 has taken up this sub­ject with me . . .”

And what ex­actly are those pro­vi­sions? “The prime min­is­ter shall keep [no­tice the firm and un­am­bigu­ous ‘shall keep!’] the gover­nor gen­eral fully in­formed con­cern­ing the gen­eral con­duct of the gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia and shall fur­nish the gover­nor gen­eral with such in­for­ma­tion as he may re­quest with re­spect to any par­tic­u­lar mat­ter re­lat­ing to the gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia.”

It should come as no sur­prise that by her own ad­mis­sion the gover­nor gen­eral “never re­quested any in­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to [Gryn­berg].” Af­ter all, be­fore re­ceiv­ing King’s let­ter she had no idea the prime min­is­ter, on be­half of the gov­ern­ment, had in 2000 en­tered into an agree­ment with the Amer­i­can oil­man. Nei­ther, it would ap­pear, did thou­sands of her fel­low Saint Lu­cians!

All the same, dear reader, please note the em­pha­sized words in the pre­ced­ing para­graph: fully in­formed, gen­eral con­duct, shall fur­nish and par­tic­u­lar. They speak clearly to what the gover­nor gen­eral sought to con­vey in her June 2013 let­ter to the leader of the House op­po­si­tion, wherein she wrote: “Sadly, the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion re­flects only too poignantly the gen­eral per­cep­tion and delu­sion that the role of the gover­nor gen­eral in our gov­er­nance sys­tem is purely cer­e­mo­nial. Ex­cept, it would ap­pear, when we are faced with a con­sti­tu­tional or le­gal cri­sis, as this one seems to be.”

But then words have al­ways been un­der at­tack by con­ve­nient in­ter­pre­ta­tion, es­pe­cially by lawyers who re­ceive mil­lions of tax dol­lars to de­fend of­ten in­de­fen­si­ble gov­ern­ment ac­tions against their no-tal­ent col­leagues— usu­ally all the op­po­site side can af­ford. It should be re­mem­bered, nev­er­the­less, that what even the most gifted lawyer says about a mat­ter of law is no more than his opin­ion, the true value of which is to be de­ter­mined by a court ap­pointed ad­ju­di­ca­tor.

It may be worth point­ing out that Bri­tish, Amer­i­can and Cana­dian law­mak­ers, dat­ing back to Becke v Smith (1836), had de­ter­mined: “It is a very use­ful rule in the con­struc­tion of a statute to ad­here to the or­di­nary mean­ing of words used.” The rule was re­stated in Gray v Pear­son: “In con­struct­ing statutes and all writ­ten in­stru­ments, the gram­mat­i­cal and or­di­nary sense of words is to be ad­hered to . . .”

Yes, in­deed. In the eyes of the gover­nor gen­eral the mat­ter re­ferred to by the then leader of the op­po­si­tion amounted to noth­ing short of “a con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis.”

Re­gret­tably, hav­ing re­ceived his Gov­ern­ment House re­sponse, Stephen­son King de­cided there were mat­ters on his po­lit­i­cal plate far more wor­thy of his at­ten­tion than a pos­si­ble “con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis” in­volv­ing the two high­est of­fices in the land. So, in­stead of turn­ing to our jus­tice sys­tem for a res­o­lu­tion, he chose to pur­sue more per­sonal goals, alas with­out suc­cess.

Just two weeks ago, in par­lia­ment, his sur­ren­der flat held high, King ac­tu­ally said too much time had been wasted talk­ing about Rochamel and Gryn­berg that might’ve been bet­ter spent work­ing for the good of the coun­try. Imag­ine that.

Small won­der that the prime min­is­ter de­clared his pre­de­ces­sor’s state­ment “coura­geous and bold.”

As for King’s party leader, he claimed he had been in­structed that there was noth­ing to be done about the cited pos­si­ble con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis that Gryn­berg rep­re­sents, thanks to the statute of lim­i­ta­tions. And so, noth­ing ven­tured, noth­ing gained. There’s a lot of that go­ing around!

It re­mains to be told by the prime min­is­ter and his pro­lif­er­at­ing weapons of mass dis­trac­tion, why, af­ter sign­ing the Gryn­berg agree­ment, he had in­structed Earl Hunt­ley to keep to him­self all re­lated doc­u­ments. In­deed, so well did the diviner of oil un­der the sea at Dauphin fol­low the prime min­is­ter’s di­rec­tives that nine years went by be­fore the se­cret agree­ment came to light. Well, sorta. If there is no law against such bla­tant con­tempt for we the peo­ple, then how long be­fore one is en­acted? I have no doubt a cer­tain dec­o­rated Do­mini­can knows the an­swer. He prob­a­bly also knows why the whole Gryn­berg mat­ter had to be kept un­der wraps for close to nine years and why, even now, the prime min­is­ter con­tin­ues to duck all re­lated ques­tions. Per­haps Shel­ton Daniel will soon put that ques­tion to the lawyer­politi­cian from An­tigua and to An­thony Astaphan!

Do­minica’s le­gal ea­gle and our prime min­is­ter’s de­fender for all sea­sons An­thony Astaphan: Can he mend a wrong

sub­trac­tion by do­ing his ad­di­tion right?

for all sea­sons An­thony Astaphan: Can he mend a wrong g his ad­di­tion right?

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