BIL­LION-DOL­LAR SMILES!

SLP Still Gun­ning for ex-Sis­ter Sarah?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE -

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 lon­gawaited de­liv­erer from the twofaced 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?

Mu­si­cal chairs was never like this: Sev­eral days af­ter swear­ing to serve as deputy House Speaker, Cas­tries Cen­tral MP Sarah Flood-Beaubrun re­signed to swear a sec­ond time to take charge of sev­eral port­fo­lios in­clud­ing Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs. Also pic­tured, Gov­er­nor Gen­eral Dane Pear­lette Louisy and Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet.

Back in the day: The year was 1997. A cou­ple days af­ter this pic­ture was taken at an un­for­get­table cam­paign rally in Vieux Fort, a then un­mar­ried Sarah Flood was elected to of­fice with fif­teen oth­ers led by Kenny An­thony.

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