Fired St Joseph MP Herbert Volney insisted yesterday he is still the elected representative and will continue to represent his constituents. He refuses to vacate the Mt Lambert constituency office.
“I am still the Member of Parliament. I remain the Member of Parliament and will remain so until the matter is determined by the High Court, or until I resign and force a by-election,” he told the Express in an interview at the office.
Volney said he proposed to give interim leader of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner “periodic reports of what is happening and what needs to be done so he can speak for the constituents and the constituency in the House of Representatives”.
Asked whether he had the blessing of his constituents to so do, Volney responded: “I am the elected MP and I think that is my call. If I think that I can’t speak for them—they will have a voice, they will have someone who speaks for them in the House. I don’t think the people of St Joseph will have a problem with Mr Warner speaking for them because St Joseph has gone green.”
Volney resigned from the United National Congress (UNC), the party he had joined after vacating the bench to contest the St Joseph seat, last month. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, political leader of the UNC, subsequently wrote to House Speaker Wade Mark, asking him to declare the seat vacant. At Monday’s sitting of Parliament, Mark declared the seat vacant with immediate effect, in keeping with the provisions of the Crossing of the Floor Act.
Volney expressed concern that since he’d lost office as a minister, the marginal constituency had gotten very little out of the Government.
“The constituency of St Joseph has been neglected by the UNC in the last year,” he said.
“I will continue to come to the constituency office and be here for constituents, once I remain the seated Member of Parliament. I propose to file my action to preserve my membership of the Parliament and in my own timing, and after speaking with the political leader of the ILP I will likely force a by-election unless I have better reasons not to,” he said.
And for the first time since he was fired by Persad-Bissessar from Cabinet one year ago for his role in the early proclamation of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act, Volney stated: “I have a problem with the Prime Minister now because I really can’t trust her.” He said he was surprised she presided over the “misdeed” of the Speaker.
“She’s a likeable person. Behind the facade of her smile is a really horrible person that she has become,” he said.
“It is very unfortunate and that is why I should correct the wrong that the Speaker did. It was deliberate. It was done with venom and I blame the PM for wanting to unseat me by writing the letter to the Speaker of the House as an SC.
“She should have known the Speaker has no such authority, but she invoked a provision and he complied. He had no proper legal ground to assume the jurisdiction of the High Court and to rule on the seat of an MP,” he insisted.
When the Express pointed out that it could be interpreted that his is a case of sour grapes, he responded: “How long can grapes be sour? You know? She (the PM) lured me out of my secure job to come and help her win an election. I lent myself to her and my name. Her party won a lot of the Catholic vote along the East-West Corridor, as I was a high-profile Catholic on her team. When she got more seats than she expected, power got to her head...”
He stated emphatically he did not trust the Attorney General.
Volney, who also lost his MP’s salary of $14,500 when his seat was declared vacant, says he will manage financially on his judge’s pension and from his consultancy work.
“I am a man with years in the law. I can still give and I do give legal opinions and advice, for which I am entitled to be remunerated. I am also able to make the necessary connections with people still in Government or persons having difficulty in getting the necessary clearance for certain things,” he said.
Asked whether he would have done anything differently, he responded: “If I had to reverse the time I would probably have joined the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) and fought the St Joseph seat as a candidate of the MSJ which I see as a principled grouping compared to the UNC and the COP and the PNM.”