What’s Good for the Grey Goose . . .

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Rick Wayne

It has been said that jus­tice de­layed is jus­tice de­nied. How­ever, even when jus­tice is de­layed it could leave a lethal sting. And so it will be with the Bound­aries Com­mis­sion case, tech­ni­cally de­scribed in its of­fi­cial ti­tle as ‘Guy Joseph v Con­stituency Bound­aries Com­mis­sion, The Hon­ourable Prime Min­is­ter and At­tor­ney Gen­eral.’

“Remember this case be­fore the gen­eral elec­tion? Guy Joseph had ar­gued that An­thony Astaphan was too closely con­nected to me to rep­re­sent the for­mer Bound­aries Com­mis­sion. Dis­sat­is­fied, Guy Joseph ap­plied to the Privy Coun­cil for per­mis­sion to ap­peal. The Privy Coun­cil was not in­ter­ested. It re­fused the ap­peal be­cause it said ‘the ap­pli­ca­tion does not raise an ar­guable point of law of gen­eral im­por­tance which ought to be con­sid­ered by the ju­di­cial com­mit­tee at this time.’

“Of course the UWP got what it wanted; that is, to con­test the gen­eral elec­tions on the ex­ist­ing but un­con­sti­tu­tional bound­aries be­cause the Court of Ap­peal de­layed its judgment, so much so that Guy Joseph complained. Even if we had con­tested on the new bound­aries, I don’t think it would have made any dif­fer­ence to the out­come of the gen­eral elec­tion. So what is the sting? Un­less Guy Joseph with­draws the UWP’s claim, then the orig­i­nal case will now be heard. This case can­not be with­drawn by the at­tor­ney gen­eral or the cur­rent Speaker and both the cur­rent Speaker and myself will have the right to ap­pear in our in­di­vid­ual ca­pac­i­ties. Some in­ter­est­ing times await us all.”

Con­ceiv­ably for the ed­i­fi­ca­tion of his Face­book faith­ful, who ev­i­dently un­der­stand him far bet­ter than do the rest of us, the above is how Saint Lu­cia’s for­mer prime min­is­ter Kenny An­thony summed up the so-called “bound­aries is­sue” that for sev­eral weeks be­fore the 2016 gen­eral elec­tions had pre­oc­cu­pied both gov­ern­ment and op­po­si­tion.

Doubt­less the lan­guish­ing scores at Borde­lais—some of whom have been wait­ing more than a decade for a trial date—will be com­forted by the knowl­edge the for­mer prime min­is­ter knew all along that “jus­tice de­layed is jus­tice de­nied.” Then there is what the for­mer PM refers to in his posted piece to the troops as the “sting”: Un­less Guy Joseph with­draws the UWP’s claim,

then the orig­i­nal claim will now be heard. The case can­not be with­drawn by the at­tor­ney gen­eral or the cur­rent Speaker . . . Both the cur­rent Speaker and myself will have the right to ap­pear in our in­di­vid­ual ca­pac­i­ties.”

So, is the for­mer prime min­is­ter say­ing what in the first place had re­sulted in Guy Joseph v Con­stituency Bound­aries Com­mis­sion—the 2015 gov­ern­ment’s ex­pressed de­ci­sion to ex­pand the cur­rent num­ber of con­stituen­cies from seven­teen to twenty-one—is writ­ten in stone? Is he say­ing a gov­ern­ment can­not change its mind? And if it can, does that mean Allen Chas­tanet and his min­is­ters can now say seven­teen con­stituen­cies are more than enough?

To be fair, the for­mer prime min­is­ter ac­knowl­edges Guy Joseph alone can with­draw the UWP’s claim. Nei­ther the at­tor­ney gen­eral nor the cur­rent Speaker have the author­ity to kill it, he says. But he and the cur­rent Speaker have “the right to ap­pear in our in­di­vid­ual ca­pac­i­ties.” (Pre­sum­ably he meant to say “per­sonal,” not in­di­vid­ual.)

The for­mer prime min­is­ter also claims the 6 June 2016 elec­tion was con­ducted with “un­con­sti­tu­tional bound­aries” but he did not ad­dress the ques­tion whether the elec­tion it­self was con­se­quently il­le­gal. Nev­er­the­less, he seemed to blame the Court of Ap­peal for de­lay­ing its judgment. But then shouldn’t the prime min­is­ter have blamed him­self in­stead? He it was, af­ter all, who had an­nounced the elec­tion date with a mind to catch the then op­po­si­tion party off balance. He had al­most a year to play with, March 2017 at the lat­est—and could’ve waited for the Privy Coun­cil’s de­ci­sion. He chose not—and got stung in the worst way.

It may be worth re­mind­ing read­ers that the Eastern Caribbean Court of Ap­peal heard in Jan­uary 2011 the mat­ter of Aus­bert Regis, Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice v The At­tor­ney Gen­eral of Saint Lu­cia and did not de­liver its de­ci­sion un­til 28 Novem­ber, a few days be­fore the 2011 gen­eral elec­tions that re­turned the then op­po­si­tion Saint Lu­cia Labour Party to of­fice. As con­fus­ing as may be most of the above, how­ever, one thing the for­mer PM got ab­so­lutely right: “Some in­ter­est­ing times await us all.”

Op­po­si­tion MP for Vieux-Fort South Kenny An­thony (left) and Cas­tries South­east MP Guy Joseph: Should they con­front each other again over the con­stituency bound­aries is­sue, will the for­mer PM be wear­ing card­board horns?

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