Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur Refuses To Debate In The House Of Assembly
Those who followed the debate in the Lower House (highest court in the land) this week gleaned that Leader of the Opposition Owen Arthur was missing from the debate, AGAIN. The practice of visiting for a brief period to be marked present has been perfected by Arthur during this term as Opposition Leader. The job of leading important debates has been routinely entrusted to former leader of the opposition Mia Mottley. Another observation has been the low-key involvement of Deputy Leader of the Opposition Dale Marshall.
To question Arthur’s lack of participation in debates in the Lower House will probably provoke the predictable partisan howls. If we accept that Arthur was busy preparing for his sojourn in New York, his attendance record in parliament and early departure on many other occasions are a matter of record. Arthur’s willingness to ‘diss’ the ‘poorakey’ Lower House has to be regarded as gross disrespect of the highest court in the land. How many Barbadian workers are able to arbitrarily decide their hours of work?
It is instructive that there are a few Barbadians who remember that the role of the Opposition Leader is recognized in the Constitution of Barbados.
BU holds the view that if Arthur believes the Lower House is ‘poorakey’, it does not remove the obligation on his part to participate or the satisfy an expectation by Barbadian taxpayers that our former Prime Minister should lend his considerable experience to the debates. Generations of Barbadians should not be robbed of the experience when Hansard is reviewed and be disappointed to find Arthur’s non participation in many of the debates post-2008.
Barbadians may recall that in the previous parliament when member for St. Andrew – to his credit he attended sittings regularly of the Lower House – BUT refused to contribute to debates for many years. The reason, he felt constrained to pout because of a disagreement with then Prime Minister Owen Arthur. Why have we as a nation – including the media – not called Arthur to account for withholding his services to parliament? What are the rules of parliament which we assume accommodate Arthur’s non performance? Why are we giving Arthur a free pass?
An irony which has resulted from Arthur’s non performance in the debates is to observe Mia Mottley – displaced by the Gang of five – leading the important debates for the Barbados Labour Party (BLP). There is even the promise she will reply to the Budget next month. What are we missing here? Mottley is good enough to lead important debates on behalf of the BLP but NOT good enough to lead the party? Bear in mind a recent CADRES poll places her less than 5% behind a former Prime Minister in Arthur.
The games that politicians play at the expense of taxpayers.