Kenny Tar­gets Re­tir­ing DPP!

PM, Jus­tice Min­is­ter blame IMPACS due process de­lays on DPP Vic­to­ria Charles-Clarke, now on pre-re­tire­ment leave.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE - By Rick Wayne

Some six months ago I was es­pe­cially crit­i­cal of the prime min­is­ter for what I de­scribed as his high­handed dis­missal of the pro­pos­als of the Con­sti­tu­tional Re­form Com­mis­sion, chaired by Jus­tice Suzie d’Au­vergne. Its prepa­ra­tion had in­volved time-con­sum­ing ex­pen­sive meet­ings with cit­i­zens at home and abroad. Then there were the sev­eral tele­vised dis­cus­sions that had at­tracted much pub­lic com­ment.

The fol­low­ing is taken from the doc­u­ment sub­mit­ted to par­lia­ment: “Al­though this re­port faith­fully re­flects the spe­cific rec­om­men­da­tions we have reached as a body about our Con­sti­tu­tion and our sys­tem of govern­ment over the last five years, it would be wrong to as­sume it con­tains the full sum of knowl­edge or of un­der­stand­ing that we have ac­quired over that pe­riod. The process of re­form­ing our Con­sti­tu­tion forced us to learn a great deal about how av­er­age Saint Lu­cians view our Con­sti­tu­tion and our sys­tem of govern­ment.”

Ad­di­tion­ally: “There ap­pears to be a rea­son­able con­sen­sus among our peo­ple that what was per­haps ap­pro­pri­ate for Bri­tain with its large par­lia­ment and rel­a­tively small ex­ec­u­tive, guarded by hun­dreds of back­benchers, was some­what in­ad­e­quate in a coun­try of only seven­teen con­stituen­cies and in which the near to­tal dom­i­na­tion of a small ex­ec­u­tive over the par­lia­ment was vir­tu­ally guar­an­teed. Put an­other way, we rec­og­nized a gen­eral agree­ment that the over­whelm­ing con­cen­tra­tion of power in the hands of a small Cab­i­net was an un­ac­cept­able sit­u­a­tion that cried out for change.

“The com­mis­sion ob­served a real hunger for con­sti­tu­tional change. It dis­cerned rest­less­ness with the sta­tus quo, which man­i­fests it­self in a per­va­sive, near uni­ver­sal dis­con­tent with politi­cians and pol­i­tics alike. At the heart of this cyn­i­cism, we de­tected a wide­spread be­lief that our Con­sti­tu­tion con­demns us to a sit­u­a­tion in which our gov­ern­ments, once elected, seem be­yond our abil­ity to re­strain or to in­flu­ence. [Saint Lu­cians] lamented the fact that they could not hold a govern­ment ac­count­able ex­cept through the re­mote mech­a­nism of an elec­tion, by which time the dam­age re­sult­ing from poor de­ci­sion-mak­ing, malfea­sance, in­com­pe­tence or out­right con­tempt for the elec­torate might be ir­repara­ble or ir­re­versible.

“Above all, they be­moaned the lack of ap­pro­pri­ate checks and bal­ances on Cab­i­net au­thor­ity, the lack of a real sep­a­ra­tion be­tween Cab­i­net and par­lia­ment, and the lack of real and mea­sur­able ac­count­abil­ity ex­pected from a ma­ture sys­tem of govern­ment.”

The deputy prime min­is­ter Philip J. Pierre’s re­sponse was pre­dictable gib­ber­ish that started with his “con­grat­u­la­tions to the com­mis­sion on a well­re­searched job,” then pro­ceeded to ex­pose his true sen­ti­ments. Con­ceiv­ably ad­dress­ing the com­mis­sion’s de­ceased chair­per­son, he said: “The ques­tion is: Has the Con­sti­tu­tion served us well? Has it done what it was sup­posed to do? Has it cre­ated cri­sis? Has it cre­ated any dis­rup­tion in our coun­try? And if I may look back, I would say that in Saint Lu­cia we al­ways shoot our­selves in the feet.”

As if he had not al­ready made clear, not­with­stand­ing the non se­quiturs, his per­sonal as­sess­ment of the sub­mit­ted pro­pos­als, the deputy prime min­is­ter de­clared those who had put them to­gether “peo­ple who want to abort the [elec­tion] process” in fa­vor of “peo­ple who have ab­so­lutely no link with the con­stituents; peo­ple who do not know what it means to be re­buffed; who do not un­der­stand the needs of a poor mother . . . You want to take away their right [to vote] and put it in the hands of some peo­ple who you be­lieve have su­pe­rior brains . . . I can­not sup­port that ini­tia­tive.”

As for the prime min­is­ter, he dis­missed some of the com­mis­sion’s pro­pos­als as “otiose.” He said: “I am not sug­gest­ing the com­mis­sion has prop­erly in­ter­preted the will of the peo­ple.” Be­sides, he wanted to “em­pha­size to my col­leagues that they must re­mem­ber a re­port of a con­sti­tu­tional com­mis­sion is a prod­uct of the times. Of­ten it cap­tures the pas­sions of the mo­ment, the pre­oc­cu­pa­tions of peo­ple, and I would has­ten to add, for those of us who feel there has been an ob­ses­sive pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with the pow­ers of the prime min­is­ter, that we can bet­ter un­der­stand it if we put it in the con­text of the times.”

Rem­i­nis­cent of a school­teacher re­vis­it­ing his past for the ben­e­fit of lead­ers of the fu­ture, he went on: “I must tell you, com­ing out of the aca­demic en­vi­ron­ment, away from the lecture the­aters into the logic and prac­tice and con­sti­tu­tional law, some of my views have changed. There are things I sup­ported in the lecture the­aters of the Univer­sity of the West Indies that I no longer sup­port. Why? Be­cause I have been ex­posed to its prac­tice and it is only when you bring the pro­vi­sions of the Con­sti­tu­tion to life that you see its strengths and its weak­nesses.”

So much for the wishes of the peo­ple; so much for their ex­pressed con­cerns about the ir­rel­e­vance of our Con­sti­tu­tion. So much for democ­racy. The prime min­is­ter post­poned in­def­i­nitely fur­ther dis­cus­sion of con­sti­tu­tional re­form.

I have taken the time to re­pro­duce the above para­graphs re­lat­ing to the Suzie d’Au­vergne re­port to un­der­score how valid were the con­tri­bu­tions to the com­mis­sion, es­pe­cially con­cern­ing “the ob­ses­sion and pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with the pow­ers of the prime min­is­ter.” What had taken the com­mis­sion five years to put to­gether, the prime min­is­ter had in rel­a­tive min­utes put asun­der.

There is an­other rea­son for pro­duc­ing this ar­ti­cle at this time. And it is to say how cor­rect was the prime min­is­ter when he im­plied the d’Au­vergne com­mis­sion had “not prop­erly in­ter­preted the will of the peo­ple.” Oth­er­wise the peo­ple, by what­ever means open to them, would by now have proved the prime min­is­ter’s as­sess­ment of their in­tel­li­gence ab­so­lutely in­cor­rect and in­sult­ing.

As for my own care­fully con­sid­ered con­clu­sion that the prime min­is­ter had treated with pal­pa­ble con­tempt both the d’Au­vergne com­mis­sion­ers and the pa­tri­otic con­trib­u­tors to their as­sign­ment, well, I now ap­pre­ci­ate bet­ter than ever that one man’s meat is in­deed an­other man’s poi­son; that some ac­tu­ally en­joy slav­ery—if only by an­other name.

I know now, too, that when it comes to palata­bil­ity I should speak only for my­self. But then I’ve never done any­thing ex­clu­sive of its im­pact on oth­ers.

I sus­pect it’s too late to change!

Ev­i­dently Nixon was right when he said: “If the pres­i­dent does it, then it’s not il­le­gal!” Left to right: Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony, Jus­tice Suzie d’Au­vergne (de­ceased) and Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Philip J. Pierre.

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