My Response to the ECSC Judgement
Ever since I wrote an article on "Sour Grapes" in the SUN newspaper of December 12, 2011, expressing my dislike of the tendency in the Labour Party to be dismissive of criticisms by persons who had once been allies and in the inner circle but who had later either broken ranks or fallen out of favour, Mr. Anthony Astaphan has not lost any opportunity to include me among the targets of his vitriolic attacks in his programmes in the electronic media, whether or not the particular matters being addressed were of any interest to me. Since the judgement has been handed down by the Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, on the matter of the legitimacy of the election of two sitting Members of the Dominica House of Assembly, he has once again named me among his victims for target practice.
My only commentary on the particular matter of Dual Citizenship of Members of Parliament and the question of their legitimacy appeared in the SUN newspaper of October 24, 2011. This, I wish to remind readers, was at least two months before the judgement of Her Ladyship Gertel Thom, who had presided over the High Court sitting, was handed down. In the article I wrote,
"I therefore fervently hope, and indeed expect that judgement will be declared in favour of the defendants…"
By "the defendants" I referred to Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, the Prime Minister and Hon Petter St. Jean, the Minister of Education, and the hope and expectation were exactly fulfilled in the outcome of the hearings both in the High Court and Appeal Court sittings where Mr. Astaphan was their Advocate. In other words, on the very matter that Mr. Astaphan and the Judges concurred with what I predicted ahead of all of them, Mr. Astaphan was apparently so eager to include once again in his vitriolic attack, that he quite forgot what I had written, which I know he read, because he was the first to call me after the article appeared to discuss it. But that was one Tony Astaphan before "Sour Grapes" and there is another Tony Astaphan after "Sour Grapes". I think there should be a law in Dominica against "Memoire Poule" (which, by definition, is "selected amnesia").
But there are two other reasons, I believe, why Mr. Astaphan cannot stop calling my name when he scatters his firebrands left, right and centre, over the air-waves. One of them is a problem he has with what I went on to say after the quotation above
"…not because I applaud what has happened. I cannot applaud what I do not like".
From there I went on to draw a distinction which, I suspect, still sticks in Mr. Astaphan's craw, but which, for his benefit, I will repeat. It is the distinction between the legal question and the ethical question. He would love to make the two one and the same and to pretend that when the legal question is settled all the moral issues are swallowed up in it. I am sorry to disappoint him and all who think like him. Moral questions are not settled by legal niceties and technicalities and, in this particular case, the refusal to present the vital evidence of their Passports that would have settled the question, once for all, whether or not the defendants owed allegiance to the Republic of France at the time they offered themselves for Nomination, leaves unanswered the big moral question, and therefore the judgements of both the High Court and the Court of Appeal under a question-mark.
There is a debt that is still to be paid and, though it might not be the business of the Courts, it is certainly the business of the citizens. The citizens of the Commonwealth of Dominica have a right to know from Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, Hon. Petter St. Jean (and, indeed, also Hon. Ron Green, one of the prosecutors), whether in offering themselves for nomination for election to the Dominica House of Assembly they did right. Hemmed in as we are on the North and the South by France, it is our business to know whether in electing a citizen of France as a Member of the House of Assembly, and then appointing him as Prime Minister, we unknowingly exposed our Commonwealth to foreign occupation. The Courts, apparently, cannot help us here, but that does not mean that it does not matter or it is not relevant. It matters and it is of the utmost importance.
Now this is what Mr. Astaphan cannot swallow. He would like us to believe that, once the Judges have declared, right has been established and justice has prevailed. Not so at all. The Courts will take us only so far. They can only establish and apply the law as it stands Moral vindication is not within their purview or their competence. I have no problem with that; but I reject the implication that vindication in law must always be a moral victory. Sometimes it is, hopefully most of the time it is, but it not always is; for where the law itself is unjust, judgements based thereon cannot be just and where the law is fallible, judgements based thereon cannot be infallible. Legal justice can only go one mile. There is a second mile outside all our legal systems that must also be travelled, even with the Voice of God in the human conscience where the judgements are always true and righteous altogether. There can be a crowing over the air-waves and a chest-beating in the streets that can be a premature conclusion to unfinished business, an escape from it, a cover-up for it or all three.
There is, perhaps, a third reason why Mr. Astaphan cannot stop calling my name. This is only a guess. He hopes that, by his persistent name-calling, I will retreat into silence and leave the field to him and those who do not understand who he is or what he is after. In this he might be right, for I never wanted, in the first place, to go public with my views. I was practically dragged into it by eager persons who, I think, might now be regretting that they ever encouraged me, for I will not be anybody's voice but mine. Therefore let Mr. Astaphan keep up the pressure, he might succeed. I may just get fed-up and go silent, but one never knows, when he least expects, the "Voice" might just say again to me, as it has said before, "Write".