Six fresh faces in new Senate
THE Government and Opposition yesterday revealed their appointments to the Senate, with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller naming five new faces, while Opposition Leader Andrew Holness welcomed one fresh face to the Upper House.
The People’s National Party (PNP) rounded off the list of 13 senators, three of whom were appointed and sworn in as ministers a week ago, while the Jamaica Labour Party named seven of its eight senators with the promise that the final person would be appointed shortly.
First-time appointees to the Senate on the Government side are Rev Stanley Redwood, a former PNP parliamentary candidate and assistant vice-president of the International University of the Caribbean who will serve as Senate president; minority leader in the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation and vice-president of the PNP, Angela Brown Burke; trade unionist and close confidant of the prime minister, Lambert Brown; Imani Duncan-Price, marketing manager at Jamaica Money Market Brokers and daughter of PNP parliamentarian DK Duncan; and Wensworth Skeffery a teacher and a PNP regional chairman.
Returning to the Senate are A J Nicholson, Mark Golding and Sandrea Falconer who were last week sworn in as Cabinet ministers, as well as Norman Grant, Noel Sloley, Floyd Morris, Naval Clarke and K D Knight.
Among the seven named Opposition senators are former Government ministers Dr Christopher Tufton and Robert Montague, who failed in their bids to secure their seats as MPs in the December 29, 2011 general election. The new face to the mix is president-general of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, Kavan Gayle.
Returning senators are Arthur Williams, who has been appointed Leader of Opposition Business; Tom Tavares-Finson; Marlene Malahoo Forte, and Kamina Johnson-Smith.
Those who have not been returned to the Senate from the former administration which demitted office following the December 29 poll are Dwight Nelson, Dorothy Lightbourne, Hyacinth Bennett and Dennis Meadows. Former Senate President Dr Ossie Harding had announced that he was resigning from politics.
Yesterday Senator Falconer, the minister with responsibility for information, said the prime minister wanted the Senate to be reflective of a wide cross section of Jamaica, although it is a review chamber.
“The party leader, in her inauguration speech, spoke about serving all the people of Jamaica and so we have a blend of persons,” Falconer told the Observer.
Meanwhile, she defended the choice of Rev Redwood as Senate president, saying he has a strong personality and will be able to maintain discipline. Falconer explained further that Redwood’s church background will help to provide the Senate with the necessary moral compass.
At the same time, she dismissed suggestions that the appointment of persons were dependent solely on them being rewarded for services to the party.
“People would be naive if [they did not think that] when you have a prime minister naming a slate of senators that the party and Government would not want to push legislative agenda and so have people who are sympathetic to you, but those named are all independent-minded senators,” she said.
With three women named to the Senate, Falconer said Simpson Miller always ensures that women are represented. However, she said the female senators will not only be about pushing gender issues but seeing to the welfare of all Jamaicans.
“The Senate is a review chamber, so we have to make sure when we make laws they are good laws,” she said.
Meanwhile, Williams said the Opposition senators are all experienced in parliamentary procedure, except for the sole newcomer. This, he said, is consistent with the position held by Holness that this Opposition has to be effective, vigorous and constructive.
As for those who object to MPs who have lost their seats being named as senators, Williams reiterated that the opposition leader does not subscribe to that school of thought. “They [Tufton and Montague] are performers and they have performed well,” he said.
And as for those persons who were not renamed to the Senate, Williams said there were a number of qualified contenders for eight posts, hence a decision had to be made.
Williams, meanwhile, said Holness could name the Shadow Cabinet as early as today.