An elit­ist group wants to rule St. Lu­cia!

(An ex­cerpt from MP Philip J. Pierre’s con­tri­bu­tion to Tues­day’s Spe­cial House Sit­ting)

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT -

Iwant to first of all con­grat­u­late the mem­bers of the [Suzie d’Au­vergne] com­mis­sion for a well­re­searched job and it is clear that there was great ef­fort and re­search in the pre­sen­ta­tion of this doc­u­ment. I want to start by look­ing back into history a bit and ask­ing hon­or­able Mem­bers a few ques­tions. I agree that the Con­sti­tu­tion was a doc­u­ment of 1989 that needs re­vis­it­ing; that needs chang­ing; that needs re­view.

But the ques­tion is: has the Con­sti­tu­tion served us well? Has it done what it was sup­posed to do? Has it cre­ated any cri­sis? Has it cre­ated any dis­rup­tion in the coun­try? And if I may look back, I would say that in Saint Lu­cia, par­tic­u­larly, we like to al­ways shoot our­selves in the feet.

If you lis­ten to some of the com­ments and the com­men­taries, you would be­lieve that this coun­try is the worst coun­try in the en­tire world; that the peo­ple who run this coun­try, apart from be­ing in­com­pe­tent, are cor­rupt, use­less. They couldn’t find a job any­where else in the world, that they have to be a politi­cian only in Saint Lu­cia to live.

And that re­ally is not true. And I see in some of the sug­ges­tions of the doc­u­ment in front of me a belief that politi­cians are the cause of all evil and the cause of all the prob­lems that ex­ist in this coun­try. Mr. Speaker, let us look at the history of Saint Lu­cia: from 1979 Saint Lu­cia has not gone through what I can say is any ma­jor con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis that has caused to­tal dis­rup­tion in the coun­try.

In the 79, 82 sit­u­a­tion the Con­sti­tu­tion han­dled the prob­lem and the coun­try came back to nor­malcy rather quickly. In any case of Saint Lu­cia the Con­sti­tu­tion has served as well. This coun­try has had elec­tions, al­beit some­times it was all right in the morn­ing. There have been elec­tions that have been, in the main, free and fair in that the peo­ple have gone to the polling sta­tion and voted for the gov­ern­ment of their choice.

The fact is, what one has to un­der­stand is that the peo­ple are the ones who must tell us how to run the coun­try and not any group of men or women who be­lieve they have the bet­ter brains. Or who do not want to take the has­sle and the pres­sure of run­ning for po­lit­i­cal of­fice but want to con­sti­tu­tion­al­ize their po­si­tion in be­ing able to tell peo­ple what to do. They be­lieve, prob­a­bly be­cause of their ed­u­ca­tion, their back­ground or their class or their fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion, that they have a right to dic­tate what’s hap­pen­ing in this coun­try. And I see that clearly in

some of the pro­vi­sions of that re­port. I see it clearly.

This re­port rec­om­mends that elected par­lia­men­tar­i­ans should not be min­is­ters and in what is called a hy­brid sit­u­a­tion where you have a run­ning mate and a can­di­date and the can­di­date gives up, and the run­ning mate takes over. Yes, when the can­di­date be­comes a min­is­ter he has to give up and the run­ning mate takes over be­cause for some rea­son the elected per­son can­not be, should not be, a min­is­ter. Why? I can’t an­swer why,

Mr Speaker. [Editor’s Note: The East Castries MP clearly mis­un­der­stood what he had read in the Re­port con­cern­ing the power of re­call, prac­ticed in UK and Amer­i­can pol­i­tics!)

The peo­ple of the coun­try, the or­di­nary peo­ple, un­der­stands [sic] what is needed for him­self, for his chil­dren and for his con­stituency and when he ex­er­cises that right and he goes to vote; what he is vot­ing for is for some­one who meets his hopes and his as­pi­ra­tions; some­one he be­lieves can im­prove the qual­ity of life for him­self and for his chil­dren. And even though you may not agree with that choice, fact is the per­son who is elected is the per­son that the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple be­lieve can help them to im­prove their qual­ity of life; and when you want to abort that process by choos­ing peo­ple that you be­lieve, peo­ple who have ab­so­lutely no link with the peo­ple of the con­stituency; peo­ple who have never un­der­stood what it means to be re­buffed; peo­ple who do not un­der­stand what it means hav­ing hun­dreds of peo­ple in need; peo­ple who do not un­der­stand needs of con­stituents; peo­ple who do not un­der­stand the needs of a poor mother in the boule­vard and how the poli­cies that you, the gov­ern­ment, will im­ple­ment will help send their chil­dren, to school, you want to take that right away from them and put it in the hands of some peo­ple who you be­lieve have su­pe­rior brains Mr. Speaker? I can­not sup­port that ini­tia­tive.

What I can sup­port in the re­port is that the role of par­lia­ment is strength­ened, in that par­lia­men­tar­i­ans are al­lowed to do things in a way that their peo­ple see fit. So I be­lieve that there ought to be a vote, an al­lo­ca­tion of re­sources to each par­lia­men­tar­ian, whether he is in gov­ern­ment or not po­si­tioned. And he can use that al­lo­ca­tion for his con­stituency in a way that is fully ac­count­able and trans­par­ent. That means that each par­lia­men­tar­ian would be able, within the con­sti­tu­tional con­straints and eco­nomic

con­straints, be able to do things for his con­stituents so that he may not have to de­pend too much on cen­tral gov­ern­ment.

I be­lieve that par­lia­men­tar­i­ans should be al­lowed to im­ple­ment poli­cies and projects in their con­stituency and that ought to be a con­sti­tu­tional ar­range­ment; it ought to be in the Con­sti­tu­tion. I do not be­lieve that par­lia­men­tar­i­ans should be so tied in that any­thing they want, they have to get it from a min­is­ter or from min­is­te­rial of­fice.

I also be­lieve that par­lia­men­tar­i­ans should be em­pow­ered in that their salaries and their ben­e­fits should be de­signed in such a way that they can live with­out be­ing min­is­ters. I think the mis­chief in that, that is try­ing to cure, is that ev­ery par­lia­men­tar­ian wants to be a min­is­ter; I think that is the mis­chief that they are try­ing to cure. I think if each par­lia­men­tar­ian is al­lowed a suf­fi­cient level of lat­i­tude, where he can do things for his con­stituency, items of his own per­son, he’s paid ad­e­quately, then the need to be a min­is­ter would not be as strong as it is now. I also be­lieve that the trend or the belief that politi­cians can get in­volved in cor­rupt prac­tices is some­thing that we must try to dis­pel.

Mr. Speaker there have been ma­jor scan­dals. The fi­nan­cial scan­dals in the world were not caused by politi­cians. The col­lapse of all the ma­jor banks were [sic] not caused by politi­cians. The BCCI prob­lems were not caused by politi­cians. Even the last FIFA cri­sis . . . in fact in FIFA it was a pol­icy to keep politi­cians away from FIFA. That was a pol­icy. These sports or­ga­ni­za­tions al­ways be­lieve that politi­cians should not be in­volved and look at the cri­sis in FIFA.

So to think, or to tell young peo­ple that all the crises in the world are caused by politi­cians and they should be con­trolled, they should not be al­lowed to be­come min­is­ters, it’s not be­cause they cre­ate prob­lems, I think it’s false, I think it’s a false premise. I think some of the pro­vi­sions of these rec­om­men­da­tions make that pos­si­ble.

I be­lieve that the Con­sti­tu­tion should give par­lia­ment a more sig­nif­i­cant role in gov­ern­ment. I think the Con­sti­tu­tion should dic­tate how many times par­lia­ments meet. I think par­lia­ment should meet fre­quently so that the peo­ple’s busi­ness can be dis­cussed. The idea that par­lia­ments only meet some­times once ev­ery three months, in fact the ex­ist­ing law says that par­lia­ment only got to meet to dis­cuss the bud­get and af­ter that it doesn’t have to meet. think the Con­sti­tu­tion should de­ter­mine how many times par­lia­ment meets.

I think also the Con­sti­tu­tion should cause au­to­matic changes in the elec­toral bound­aries based on pop­u­la­tion, in that there ought not to be any anger or dis­tur­bance or so­called ger­ry­man­der­ing to take ad­van­tage when the bound­aries are to be changed. In the ex­ist­ing ar­range­ment, it says be­tween three and seven years. I think it should de­clare that any time the pop­u­la­tion of any area ex­ceeds a cer­tain num­ber of peo­ple, the bound­aries should au­to­mat­i­cally change. So it would re­move all the so-called ad­van­tage that peo­ple think gov­ern­ment in power has when these bound­aries are changed.

I see no rea­son why min­is­ters of re­li­gion should not be in­volved in pol­i­tics. Min­is­ters of re­li­gion, some of them, are the great­est. Not the great­est, the most in­flu­en­tial peo­ple in the is­land. They speak to peo­ple in churches, they try to con­trol their lives, they tell how to live their lives; they tell them what to do and not do. Why can’t they come out and do what they prac­tise? Why do you want to in­flu­ence with­out fac­ing the mu­sic your­self?

I’ll make a state­ment to­day which I’m sure I will get at­tacked for: the idea that par­lia­men­tar­i­ans and politi­cians should not be paid a salary be­cause they hap­pen to be politi­cians and that is why in that sys­tem, in these rec­om­men­da­tions, all the con­trols are for par­lia­men­tar­i­ans. There are no stated con­trols or stric­tures for the peo­ple who will be in the so-called Cab­i­net. No con­trols over them. All the mea­sures of con­trol are for elected par­lia­men­tar­i­ans. The pro­vi­sions make the job of the prime min­is­ter al­most, I mean, I don’t want to hold up my col­league here . . . It strips the prime min­is­ter of all the power the prime min­is­ter can have. To me, it doesn’t make any sense. Our sys­tem dic­tates that the prime min­is­ter must have some mea­sure of con­trol for the peo­ple who are in the gov­ern­ment ser­vices. I’m sure a busi­ness­man, a CEO in a busi­ness would like to have some mea­sure of con­trol over his em­ploy­ees. Be­cause in the fi­nal anal­y­sis, the prime min­is­ter is the most equal among equals. The prime min­is­ter, like all of us here, has to re­port to peo­ple at the end of five years. And that is the re­port­ing mech­a­nism that this doc­u­ment fails to un­der­stand!

Philip J. Pierre: Pro­pos­als sub­mit­ted for the ref­or­ma­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion of St. Lu­cia had the

deputy prime min­is­ter on Tues­day see­ing more red that usual!

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