Sat | Apr 20, 2019

Vaz boycotts political code of conduct signing

Published:Tuesday | March 19, 2019 | 12:12 AMGareth Davis
Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown viewing a document, while campaign manager Mikhail Phillips looks on, as People's National Party candidate, Damion Crawford signs the Political Code of Conduct at the Port Antonio Courthouse in Portland.

Port Antonio, Portland:

 

Disappointed in what she claimed was a failure on the part of the Office of the Political Ombudsman to repond to slanderous social media posts against herself and family, Ann-Marie Vaz, the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) candidate for Portland East yesterday boycotted the signing of the Political Code of Conduct ceremony.

Among other things, Vaz, who is the wife of Portland West Member of Parliament (MP) Daryl Vaz, also alluded to other specific areas of concerns.

In a letter to Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown, dated Monday March 18, Mrs. Vaz said: "The refusal of the political ombudsman to respond to the offensive comments and utterances by People's National Party (PNP) candidate, Damion Crawford to my good self and to my family and in general women, during the last two weeks; these discriminatory comments of classism and sexism are indeed repugnant and offensive."

The letter, signed by the JLP candidate, also charged that the Office of the Political Ombudsman failed to carry out its duties. Mrs Vaz noted that in principle, she was not averse to signing the Political Code of Conduct. The letter contended that the office (ombudsman) needs to act in good faith, which has not been reflected to date.

The Portland East JLP candidate said that she was not prepared to share the same space with the PNP's candidate until a formal apology was offered to Jamaican women.

While Mrs Vaz stayed away from the signing, her counterpart Crawford, along with his campaign manager, Mikhail Phillips, was on hand to affix his signature to the code, under the watchful eyes of Custos of Portland, Lincoln Thaxter, superintendent of police, Dwayne Wellington, PNP general secretary Julian Robinson, and Parchment Brown.

“The campaign manager had to convey to me that the candidate for the JLP did not feel that it was a good thing to be here this morning," commented Parchment Brown.

She continued: “There had been an early commitment to sign the code and I’m sorry that that didn’t happen, but I make no judgment on the candidate as a result of that. What I would like though is an opportunity to meet with the candidate and campaign manager and to continue to meet with the general secretary of the JLP on the issues of concern.”

According to Parchment Brown, she was taking steps to have the offensive postings on social media removed. She noted that attempts would be made to determine who made the social media posts.

“This morning (yesterday) I received a WhatsApp message from the leader of the Jamaica Labour Party of a rather scurrilous, disgraceful, pointless post that I believe was on twitter. I received from the general secretary of the People's National Party a condemnation and disavowal of that post. I am in the process of having this and some other scurrilous posts removed. And I intend to identify, if at all possible, the source of this disgraceful post," Parchment Brown further said.

Crawford yesterday distanced himself from any such posting that sought to defame or scar the character and integrity of any candidate on a political platform, while condemning such acts, which according to him, was not what he was seeking to promote.

“I thought and I still maintain that I held historically, and hopefully presently, hold a very good relationship with the candidate and I hope that will continue after an election for which we both are seeking victory," said Crawford.

“It remains unfortunate after Nomination Day when I declared if the candidate feels disrespected, it is not in my right to say if they should or should not feel disrespected, and therefore on that feeling I would offer an apology to the candidate. However, my statement was in line with the political process. My statement was on a basis of the positioning of the candidate of herself as Mrs. Portland and her husband as Mr. Portland."