Premier Dr. the Honourable Natalio Wheatley has made it clear that he did not consult the Speaker of the House of Assembly prior to her recent decision to reject former premier Andrew Fahie’s Notice of Absence request.
Premier Wheatley debunked such claims as he backed the Speaker’s ability to make decisions on tough matters.
He reminded the public that the Speaker’s position is one that is and should always be independent of any political party or member in the House of Assembly.
“No, I did not consult the Speaker and it’s important to say the Speaker is completely independent. She’s independent of myself, she’s independent of any political party and that’s part of the reason we wanted to select her because she doesn’t have any known political affiliations. And we wanted to ensure that we add a Speaker that would be straight down the middle. No, even perception of bias,” he stated.
He added, “So she used her own judgment with no influence from anyone else. She is a lawyer. She has a legal background, she looked at the standing orders. She looked at, I guess, even where the standing orders were silent, looked at the Constitution and, of course, she came to her judgment.”
By-election will have to be call if seat is vacated
Premier Wheatley also addressed the matter of a possible by-election in the First District if Fahie is made to vacate his seat.
He said if the former premier does not receive the approval of the Speaker in his Notice of Absence requests, after missing three sessions of the House of Assembly, Fahie’s seat will automatically be vacated.
Dr. Wheatley said this will trigger a by-election in the First District.
“We have to look to the Standing Orders and also to the Constitution. There are a number of ways where a member’s seat can be vacated, and it’s been well, publicized that if you miss three citizens, without having the permission of the speaker, then the seat will vacate. If the seat vacates, it will trigger a by-election. That’s what the Constitution says. And I believe it’s within 60 days of the seat becoming vacated,” Premier Wheatley explained.
Speaker of the House of Assembly Corine George-Massicote rejected Fahie’s Notice of Absence for the fifth, sixth and future sittings of the House of Assembly.
She revealed that the former premier cited his bail conditions as the reason why he was not able to attend the House of Assembly for the previous two sittings.
She said while the same reason was cited for the fifth and sixth sitting, the main factor that changed and resulted in her decision not to grant Fahie’s request, was the delaying of his trial from July 18, 2022, to January 2023.