Tue | Sep 26, 2023

‘Massa Mark’ comment triggers Opposition walkout of Parliament

Published:Tuesday | March 21, 2023 | 4:41 PM
Members of the Opposition including Golding walked out of the chamber before Clarke completed his presentation. - Kenyon Hemans photo

Members of the Parliamentary Opposition walked out of Parliament earlier this afternoon after a verbal spat with Speaker of the House Marisa Dalrymple Philibert.

The verbal tussle was triggered by a comment made by Finance and the Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke as he closed the Budget Debate in Parliament this afternoon.

Clarke seemed to have opened a proverbial can of worms when he referred to Leader of the Opposition Mark Golding as “Massa Mark”.

Before calling Golding “Massa Mark”,  the finance minister referenced the Opposition Leader's comment at a party meeting in which he described Labourites as "damn fool". “Dat never sound like Markie G,” Clarke quipped.

However, the word “Massa” used by Clarke to describe Golding seemingly irritated Member of Parliament for St Andrew South West Angella Brown Burke who rose on a point of order.

While attempting to explain her point of order to the Speaker she was heckled by Member of Parliament for Kingston West Desmond McKenzie.

Brown Burke shot back: “Shut yuh mouth”.

This triggered further uproar in the House with the Speaker charging that Brown Burke used unparliamentary language. Dalrymple Philibert told the St Andrew South West MP to withdraw the comment before making her point of order.

However, Brown Burke protested, arguing that Clarke's “Massa Mark” comment was also unparliamentary language.

In a sotto voce comment, controversial St Catherine South West MP Everald Warmington said: “It is not unparliamentary, he is a descendant of a slave master”.

Brown Burke again protested to the Speaker referencing Warmington's sotto voce comment.

However, the Speaker said she could not rule on a remark that she did not hear.

As the Speaker insisted on Brown Burke's withdrawal of the “shut up” remark made to McKenzie, the Opposition MP resisted, saying she would not retract on the Speaker's terms.

Members of the Opposition including Golding walked out of the chamber before Clarke completed his presentation.

Member of Parliament for Westmoreland Central George Wright was the lone figure left on the Opposition benches.

Dalrymple Philibert is to make a ruling next week in relation to the outburst by Brown Burke.

- Edmond Campbell

Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us at onlinefeedback@gleanerjm.com or editors@gleanerjm.com.