Irate Opposition senators defy senate president
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
The two most senior Opposition senators, Robert Montague and Tom Tavares-Finson, today showed defiance to Senate President Floyd Morris, one accusing him of being unfair and the other telling him "a hope what you start yuh can finish."
The incident unfolded towards the end of the sitting of the Senate when Tavares-Finson, the leader of Opposition Business, rose to protest a decision made by Justice Minister Mark Golding that the business of the day would come to an end, and that the review Chamber would re-convene next Thursday.
Tavares-Finson noted that the Senate should have debated two bills - the Timeshare Vacations Act, 2014 and the Evidence (Amendment) Act, 2014.
While the Timeshare Vacations bill was debated and passed, Golding said the debate on the Evidence Amendment Act would not start until next week.
This was much to the annoyance of Tavares-Finson who said he came prepared for the debate.
He also accused Golding of sitting for next week Thursday without consulting the Opposition.
Government senators, however, accused Tavares-Finson of not paying attention in the Upper House, saying it was announced during last Friday’s sitting.
Morris, then insisted that Tavares-Finson takes his seat, an instruction which some government senators echoed.
"Don't tell me to sit… do not do that. Not even my parents address me like that," Tavares-Finson told members on the Government benches.
Still, Tavares-Finson refused to take his seat, and accused Morris of dealing with him "with an iron fist" when he attempts to speak.
"Everything is just 'sit down, sit down, sit down'. Every week you ask me to sit," he complained.
Morris said that it is the right of the president to instruct members to take their seats.
"I have the right to register my disapproval," said Tavares-Finson acknowledging however that the president has the right to tell members to sit.
“Every meeting of the senate it is just 'sit down, sit down, sit down'. I am tired of it,” he said.
Morris then sought and received guidance from Heather Cooke, the Clerk to the Houses of Parliament, and referred to a Standing Order which points out that no member should speak whenever the president is on his feet.
“The member is supposed to extend the courtesy just as how I extend courtesies to all members here to sit. There is no need for any member to be offended. But there are members in this Senate who continue to violate the rules when the president is on his feet or is speaking and I am not going to condone it. Next time it happens I am going to take decisive action,” Morris warns.
Convinced that Morris relied on the wrong Standing Order, Montague attempted to rise on a point of order but the president would have none of it.
He brought down the gavel and adjourned the Senate.
Having seen his appeal to be heard on a point of order ignored, a furious Montague, responded: “Oh, that’s how yuh doing it now. Ok mi Lord. I hope what you start yuh can finish. Ok mi lord, OK mi lord.”
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