By J. K. Roberts (Sound Public Policies Advocate); Circulated on Tuesday, 25th October 2016.
The ‘attitude and approach’ of the powers-that-be on the exercise toward constitutional law reform as articulated in the 2013 elections manifesto of Dr. Keith Mitchell’s New National Party (NNP) has been denounced as being despicable and deplorable from the start, and recent occurrences and utterances have being verifying this pronouncement. Throughout the exercise, from the ill-conceived establishment of the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC) in January 2014 to the ill-conceived arrangement for the October 2016 constitutional referendum, there have been revelations of an apparent well-orchestrated thrust to mislead the Grenadian people. The thrust to mislead is to corrupt the noble cause for the exercise, to betray the sovereign will of the people and to despise moral and democratic principles. The thrust to mislead also encroaches on the legal correctness for the exercise; and particularly there are reasonable grounds on which an injunction can be pursued against the holding of the (re)scheduled referendum. Review the previously internet-circulated articles, “Grenada Constitution Reform: Referendum in Question” and “Grenada Constitution Reform: Unconstitutional Acts”, for gaining an appreciation for knowing, upholding and defending the truth.
Grenada’s constitution reform project has been plunged by the CRAC into darkness with misrepresentation, misinformation and mismanagement on the pertinent issues; this is deliberate in an effort to mislead the people into an unknown socio-political destination. The darkness pervades the entire spectrum of the project, including the so-called public consultations and the so-called technically assisted drafting of the various legislative provisions. The intensity of the darkness and the destruction it poses, far surpass the dark epoch which surrounded the introduction of the 1974 Independence Constitution. In fact, CRAC cannot measure-up to the patriotic goodwill for ‘political governance of indigenous identity’ for Grenada, as illuminated with the spirit of intent of the June (July) 1983 Constitutional Commission headed by Trinidadian Senior Counsel Allan Alexander, the February 1985 Constitution Review Commission headed by Vincentian Queen Counsel Sir Fred Phillips, the 2002 February Constitution Review Commission headed by Grenadian Justice Lyle St. Paul, and of the 2010 / 2012 versions of drafted new constitution for Grenada by Grenadian Professor Simeon R. Mc Intosh.
The powers-that-be try to rely on the different ‘one-shot’ missions of review of the constitution to propagate the myth that the people have had good sensitization, participation, education and readiness for the referendum. Chairman of the CRAC, Dr. Francis Alexis QC, also holds the view that the process has broad consensus and that this is a very impressive background to plans for a Referendum Day in Grenada in 2016. Despite this bluff, the legislative provisions for the referendum do not reflect the desires and sentiments of the people; neither would any endorsements by the people be reflected. Thus, the clause for the enactment of the Bills should include ‘by and with the advice and consent of the people of Grenada’. Moreover, the date on which the resultant Acts shall come into effect should be specified and not to be reserved at the fantasy of the Executive of the government. The people must be guaranteed that their expectations are not smashed with bogus excuses for failure to operate an implementation mechanism for meeting the provisions of the Acts. It is indeed misleading to claim that the process for the reform(s) in Grenada, “reflects the key realities of such a process” for a ‘noble constitutional’ undertaking; recall the internet article “Grenada Constitution Reform : Forms and Objects”.
Although the titles of the seven (7) constitutional Amendment Bills sound reasonably appealing, the bills are all deficient and misleading. They are loaded with ambiguities, abnormalities, errors, overkills, red herrings and extraneous inclusions to mask ulterior agendas. The concerns, controversies and challenges by the people on the bills are genuine but these are dismissed by the power-that-be as being antagonistic, politically motivated and a display of an attitude of arrogance. The Rights and Freedoms Bill would negatively affect the cultural and social norms, as well as the citizenship configuration and political dimension of the country. The Name of State Bill would negatively affect the sovereignty, jurisdiction and security of the country. The CCJ Bill would negatively affect the obtaining of pure and true justice, as well as the role of the people in decisions on national policies. The Fixed Date for Elections Bill, the Elections and Boundaries Commission Bill, the Leader of the Opposition Bill and the Term of Office of Prime Minister Bill would constitutionalize the travesty and tragedy of parliamentary democracy in the country. The bills are open-ended with unsaid languages or unwritten texts.
The Amendment Bills are actually traps for the unsuspecting and the non-objective; but the powers-that-be have also being misleading themselves by believing that every Grenadian falls in the category of those passive persons. For the analytical and patriotic minds, it is unmistakable that the primary motivation for the bills is to accommodate the requests, deals and conditions of ‘external’ persons; the social lifestyles, as well as the cultural, religious and political philosophies of most of these persons are foreign and offensive to the traditions of the locals. Particularly, the Grenadian people are threatened to a new form of neo-colonialization and/or a new form of dictatorship; and unfortunately, the people are swayed to license this new orientation by voting wrongly or by voting uninformed, on the bills. Thus, the right to vote and the qualifications for parliamentarians in the Rights and Freedoms Bill are not isolated from the ‘public island’ concept to the Name of State Bill and from the judicial redress environment under the CCJ Bill. The bills are all designed and directed to entrench and to protect the stakes of the external persons, over the local people. Then the local is lure by the authority to accept that the bills are imperative for Grenada to adapt to global trends; making special citations to the declarations of the Commonwealth, the conventions of the United Nations and the commitments to Caricom.
The Grenadian public is being misled to believe and to settle that the issues which are of concern and consequence for the referendum are limited to the seven Amendment Bills. However, critically germane to the integrity of the outcome of the referendum are the Constitution of Grenada (Restructuring) (Amendment) Bill which has been gazetted as Act No. 24 of 2016 and the Constitutional Referendum Bill which became Act No. 25 of 2016. These Acts were passed in Parliament in darkness and the people remain in ignorance, to the extent that there is no easy access and active discussions on those haphazard and hazardous Acts. The two extra related bills had deserved the same level of scrutiny for content, substance, technicality, application and implication as the Amendment Bills; the core of control of the referendum lies in the then Acts. Also review the previous articles “Grenada Constitution Reform: In Darkness” and “Grenada Constitution Reform : A One Sided Affair”.