Independent senator versus UNC senator .
Independent Senator Paul Richards has called for UNC Senator Jearlean John to be brought before Parliament’s Privileges Committee for allegedly verbally attacking Independent Senator Maria Dillon -Remy’s support for Government’s Procurement Bill.
Richards raised the issue in Senate yesterday. Senate president Christine Kangaloo said she’d rule on it.
Richards cited certain public statements allegedly made by John following the passage of the Procurement bill in the Senate on Tuesday. Richards quoted several Newsday statements by John who was described as being upset at Dillon-Remy’s support for the bill.
He said if these purported statements and reflections are true, John committed a contempt by breaching her privilege as a senator.
Richards said the Constitution is very clear that the nine Independent senators aren’t chosen based on allegiance to any party but based on their expertise and contribution to society.
“As Independent Senators, we’re free to vote based on our conscience as we aren’t aligned to any political party. We are not a bloc, but nine individuals who have been brought into the Senate to contribute to national affairs, based on our expertise. To that end, we, as indeed all Members, are protected by Parliamentary Privilege. “
“Parliamentary privilege is the buttress of a strong legislature which can effectively perform its functions in representing the people, scrutinising the Executive and passing laws for the benefit of the citizenry. Therefore, its sanctity must not be eroded as it protects this august House from interference by anyone who may wish to impede or influence those proceedings in pursuit of their own ends.”
Richards said it is a violation of this principle for a Senator to inappropriately reflect or challenge the vote of a Senator, “And in this case, an esteemed long-serving Independent Senator. The statements attributed to Senator Jearlean John seeks to undermine the integrity of the Independent Senator, lower her estimation in the general public, as well as cast aspersions on her character.”
“This damages not only the Independent Bench but also serves to bring the entire Senate into odium and disrepute. Such violation is strongly condemned and, it gives me no pleasure, to raise a motion of privilege against Senator John.”