Premier Andrew Fahie has asked Speaker of the House Julian Willock to “reconsider his decision” and to swear in Mark Vanterpool as Fourth District representative at the next House of Assembly sitting, he announced in a statement Sunday afternoon.
He added that the matter “has been hanging over the territory for an inordinate amount of time and has become a source of discord and bitterness that is undermining the harmony and family spirit which is the soul of our society.”
He went on to criticise Mr. Vanterpool harshly and to maintain that Mr. Willock took a “strong legal and moral stance.”
He added that Mr. Willock was right to pursue the matter in the courts because he believes that the Fourth District seat was indeed vacated by Mr. Vanterpool’s resignation because he clearly expressed his intent to resign in his March 5 video, exposing “an apparent lacuna in the Constitution.”
‘Slap in the face’
Mr. Vanterpool’s conduct, he added, “was a slap in the face of our democracy, an insult to the constituents of the Fourth District — in particular those electors who voted for Mr. Vanterpool — and a betrayal of the sacred trust that forms when a constituent gives their vote to a nominee for office. Mr Vanterpool made a mockery of representative politics.”
He nevertheless stated that he “intimated” to Mr. Willock that it was time to move past this “dark episode” for the sake of the territory, particularly the residents of the Fourth District.
However, he added that the Speaker has jurisdiction over the House, and that it is ultimately up to Mr. Willock to make the decision.
He went on to say that he welcomed the presence of Mr. Vanterpool at the next HOA sitting.
“I hope these words help to bring some resolution to this unfortunate and messy situation,” he said.
The matter is currently before the appeals court after Mr. Willock appealed a High Court decision that found he should swear in Mr. Vanterpool.
Mr. Willock has said that his legal costs are being covered by the government, and if he loses his side could be ordered to cover Mr. Vanterpool’s as well.
Opposition leader Marlon Penn has alleged that the costs from Mr. Willock’s side are already in the $100,000 range, and that Mr. Vanterpool’s are around $80,000. Attempts to reach Messrs. Willock and Vanterpool were unsuccessful.