Opposition Leader, Tobias Clement, Monday chained himself to his table in the Parliament as he made a statement in response to the EC$1.2 billion (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) that Finance Minister Gregory Bowen had presented to legislators last Wednesday.
Clemwnt was originally due to begin the debate in the 15-member Parliament last Friday, but the Speaker, Michael Pierre, said he had received no communication from the legislator regarding his absence.
“That will mean, therefore, that we have gone back to making presentations, the Leader of the Opposition when he comes, if he comes, would be allowed to make a presentation just as any other member of the House, the timing of which is one hour.
“It’s unfortunate we cannot hold up the entire nation and this House to the fancy of the Leader of the Opposition,” Pierre said on Friday.
In anticipation that he would most likely be removed from the Chamber if he spoke for more than an hour, a chained Clement told legislators “I am here to deliver what I have to deliver to the people
“And I believe Mr Speaker in order to get me out before my time is up you will have to nuke this place,” said Clement.
“When I leave this House, one thing I know I will leave with my self-respect. This might be the most famous piece of chain in Grenada today. Let the whole world see that in chain I will deliver what I have to deliver today. If you have to get me out today, I do not know if the orderlies can afford it,” said Clement, bolting the chain to his hand.
The Speaker interrupted the opposition legislator, explaining that the Parliament is a place of freedom.
“I do understand a lot of drama and grandstanding…I don’t know why you came so prepared. You see you were given the opportunity to do your do, that is your privilege as Leader of the Opposition.”
“I don’t understand the drama and the chain, this Parliament is not a slave pen, the Parliament is a place of freedom and you stand to speak, you stand to debate the budget and I think as you say the world is watching, but the world doesn’t want to see a comedian or something like that in this country, the parliament is bigger than that,” he said.
The Parliament Standing Orders do not provide the order in which members must respond to the budget but recommends that the Leader of the Opposition be provided with the same time used by the Minister who presented the fiscal package or two hours or whichever is more.
Pierre allowed Clement to speak for two hours.
In the last general election, held on March 13, 2018, Mitchell led his ruling New National Party (NNP) to a consecutive clean sweep of all 15 seats in the Parliament.
But Clement resigned from the party in April this year and was appointed Opposition Leader, saying that his decision to fill the post which had been vacant since 2013, was his way of taking a stand for democracy.
At the conclusion of the Budget presentation last Wednesday, Clement had requested that two days be given to him to prepare for his response, but was told by the Speaker that the Standing Orders made no such provisions other than for him to have the same time as had been used by the Finance Minister to make his response.