PNM Tobago Council political leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine says the passage of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Amendment Bill in the Parliament on Friday supports the view that going back to the polls with an uneven number of seats is the most democratic way to end the current deadlock in the assembly.
Davidson-Celestine, who is also the Secretary for Health, Wellness and Family Development, spoke to reporters on Saturday at a simple function to distribute the first batch of Oxford AstraZeneca covid19 vaccines to Tobago’s frontline healthcare professionals at the Scarborough Health Centre, Bacolet.
Two hundred doses of the vaccine have been designated for some 100 healthcare workers in Tobago.
Up to news time on Saturday, the division reported that 34 doses were administered.
On Friday, the THA Amendment Bill 2021 was passed by a simple majority as 21 government MPs voted for the legislation while 18 voted against.
The Senate is expected to debate the bill on March 2.
The bill seeks, in part, to increase from 12 to 15, the number of electoral districts in Tobago. It also gives the Chief Secretary the power to call a fresh election.
Davidson-Celestine said she was not surprised the bill was passed.
“For something as simple as that it required a simple majority and so it was passed. For me and I know for us in the Tobago situation, it represents one of the most democratic ways of determining which party should lead the island over the next four years.”
She said the amendment to the THA Act simply allows the island to treat with situations whenever there is a deadlock arrangement.
“Apart from that, there is now an opportunity to have 15 seats as opposed to 12. Some would argue why 15 as opposed to 12 or even 13?
“Fifteen did not come out of a hat…it came as a result of all of Tobago coming together to be a part of the consultation process when the administration would have led the discussion on the Tobago House of Assembly autonomy bill and self-determination for all of us.”
Davidson-Celestine said the decision to create three additional seats is not a PNM position per se but a Tobago position.
“We feel that in a situation where you already have six-six, it makes no sense to go back to the polls with that current arrangement because you can end up with the same situation.
“And you know what is said with regard to doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
She said returning to the polls is the most democratic process in terms of selecting a party to lead the island.’
The PNM and the Progressive Democratic Patriots each won six electoral districts in the January 25 THA election.
The 12 assemblymen have since been unable to elect a presiding officer to oversee the assembly’s business.
This led to the Prime Minister seeking the approval of the Parliament to end the deadlock.
Meanwhile, the PDP, which has initiated legal action against the Clerk of THA for failing to invoke and correctly apply the law and standing orders to select a presiding officer, has said it will respond to passage of the bill in the Parliament today.