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Open Letter to Speaker of the House of Assembly

by: - July 12, 2018
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Photo credit: The Gazelle

The following is an open letter written to the Speaker of the House of Assembly by the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM).

A copy of the letter was emailed to the media on Thursday 12 July 2018 for dissemination to the public and is as follows;

“July 11th, 2018

Ms. Alix Boyd Knight
The Speaker of the House of Assembly
In the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Dominica
Commonwealth of Dominica.

Dear Madam Speaker,

An Open Letter: – Conduct during Parliamentary Proceedings

As one of the voices of civil society which are committed to parliamentary democracy in the Commonwealth of Dominica, Concern Citizens Movement (CCM) is obliged to write to you to express our concern over the partial manner in which you have presided over our country’s House of Assembly.

You have had the honour to serve as the Speaker for eighteen years, indeed the longest tenure of any Speaker in the forty-year history of this august House of Assembly. Our observation of your stewardship over those years is that it has been characterized by a fundamental lack of appreciation for the principle of impartiality, one of the most important principles essential for the effectiveness of the Speaker. Further, we have noted your consistent failure to grasp the fundamental concept that the Speaker is the Servant of the House of Assembly, not the servant of the Government.

As the guardian of the Standing Orders, you have, on many instances throughout your tenure, used these very Orders to grant favour and advantage to the Government side, and to punish and belittle the Opposition side. In the recent sitting the House of Assembly on 25 June 2018 you again demonstrated your standard practice of invoking the Standing Orders to bring to a premature end, the sterling contribution to the Resolution on Housing Assistance by Opposition Senator, Isaac Baptiste, by stating that “the Member has gone beyond the scope of the debate” and “unfortunately, I have the honour to preside in this House and the rules say my interpretation carries”. Senator Baptiste was not imputing improper motive and we feel strongly that you should have allowed him to complete his contribution to that debate.

We are indeed very concerned by the constant rancor in the House between you and the Opposition side. It certainly has not augured well for advancing our parliamentary democracy. We discern a partisan posture which you exhibit at many sittings of the House and wish to underscore that this posture cannot be a defining hallmark of an effective Speaker. We know for sure that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, of which you are a member, would be appalled to know of your very partisan behavior in the Dominica House of Assembly.

We in civil society understand well and appreciate your role as the guardian of the rights and privileges of the House of Assembly. However, we are also cognisant that effective stewardship of these rights and privileges should only proceed from the basis of a balanced posture of the Speaker. It is that balanced posture we have not seen in your eighteen years tenure.

In the interest of advancing our parliamentary democracy, and in consideration of what will be your legacy as Speaker, we implore you make an about turn which will no longer allow partisan considerations to cloud your judgment in the stewardship of our honourable House of Assembly.

Sincerely yours,

Mr. Loftus Durand
The President
Concerned Citizens Movement”