by Linda Straker
- Dr Mitchell did not attend first regular sitting of Lower House
- Described as grandfather of Lower House due to length of service since 1984
- Current situation with elected opposition brings true meaning to practice of democracy
Joseph Andall, Member of Parliament for St Patrick West, said he expects Dr Keith Mitchell, who is the Leader of the Opposition, to be a guiding light in the Lower House of Parliament for all the members who are on their first term.
Dr Mitchell, who was unable to attend the first regular sitting of the Lower House on Thursday, 29 September 2022 since a new government was voted into office on 23 June, was described by Andall as the grandfather of the Lower House because of his years of service, beginning in 1984.
“I am a bit regretful that the honourable member for St George NorthWest, the father, some may even say the grandfather of the Parliament, is not here to hear this, but I expect him, given his longevity and his experience to be the guiding figure in this house,” said Andall.
“I expect him to serve the example of decency, dignity, and decorum in this House so that the young member from St John can have an example to emulate, so that the young member from Carriacou and Petite Martinique can say this is what I want to be like when I am serving my 9th term,” Andall continued.
There was no elected opposition following the 2013 and 2018 General Elections because the New National Party (NNP) candidates won all the constituency seats. Andall told the House that the current situation in which there is an elected opposition brings true meaning to the practice of democracy. “For the first time in many years, we have what is almost an ideal situation when it comes to the practice of democracy in our country. For the first time in many years, we are going to have a robust opposition.”
“We expect the debates to be maybe even fierce sometimes, but there is one thing I wish to impress on all my colleagues, those on this as well as others on the other side, we are adults, we represent a civilise nation, the eyes of the world are on us and therefore I implore all of us that even as the debate may rage on let us do so with a spirit of mutual respect and civility.” Andall is a former secondary school teacher and a linguist.
“There will be little ones looking on and we do not want them to be saying Lord, this is what Parliament looks like, mark me no share; we have an obligation to set good and proper examples.” Parliament has 9 members on the Government side and 6 on the Opposition side.