Speaker Boyd -Knights and Opposition Leader Lennox Linton clash over amendment to Order Paper
It was expected and therefore was no surprise that Alix Boyd-Knights would become the Speaker of the House of Assembly for the fourth consecutive five- year term.
When the House voted to elect a speaker on Friday morning, Boyd-Knights received all votes from the government side of the House of Assembly (21) and Judith Pestaina, the opposition United Workers Party's (UWP) nominee for the post, all the votes of the opposition (10).
As expected members of parliament on government's side of the House congratulated Boyd-Knights as well as many of the opposition members. When it was Lennox Linton's turn to congratulate the newly elected Speaker, the Opposition Leader said he only rose to remind the House of the expectations of Dominicans as articulated by the late Rosie Douglas.
"You have to be fair, you have to be objective and you have to allow all opinions to contend at the level which the truth prevails," Linton said.
Joshua Francis, the parliamentary representative for Roseau South said: "You have persevered, you are very strong –minded," he said. "Madame Speaker, you know what you have and the people of Dominica very well know what you have and what you don't have."
The House of Assembly appointed Senator Edward Registe to the post of Deputy Speaker unopposed since the UWP did not name a nominee.
"I have always seen the Prime Minister as a visionary," said Senator Registe, who is also the Secretary of the ruling Dominica Labour Party. "I am happy to share that vision for the country."
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said Registe "has laboured in the vineyard of the Labour Party for a long time; he is one of my trusted political advisers and I'm very happy to have him."
During the meeting of the House of Assembly senators and parliamentary representatives took their oath of allegiance to the Parliament. And President of Dominica, His Excellency Charles Savarin delivered an address to Parliament.
As many persons anticipated there would have been a clash between Linton and Speaker Knights when the parliamentarians were called on to adopt the Order Paper.
When that item came up Linton asked the Speaker for an amendment to reflect the questions and motions that the opposition had presented to the Clerk of the House but were not part of the Order Paper.
Speaker Boyd-Knights was prepared with an answer because earlier this week the UWP had organised a press conference, broadcast live, to outline its concern.
"I wish to advise the member that at the first sitting of the House after an election no such motion and questions are placed on the Order Paper," the Speaker said. "That has been from time immemorial –that is for the life of the Parliament."
Boyd-Knights added: "This is because questions and motions come from members and there is a standing order which says that you are not a member till you have taken the oath of allegiance. So, therefore, no question can be entertained from a stranger which is what you are until you become a member."
The Government side of the House of Assembly applauded the Speaker.
Linton persisted saying that he became a member of the President of Dominica issued the writ.
Boyd-Knights was not amused.
"I would wish the member to explain what he does not understand about being a member," she said.
Linton said the rules as it applies to members of the House of Assembly apparently only applies to members of the opposition because the government had various items on the Order Paper.
"You have misunderstood that there is a difference between a government and a member. The government is not a member and the government never subscribes to an oath," she said. "I am saying to the member that at the time the questions were submitted by him he was not a member and that is why the convention has ruled that we do not put any questions or motion from any member until such time they take their oath. Can we now proceed?"