October 8, 2004
Growing up, with respect

The Constitutional Review Commission launched its second booklet this Wednesday at the Methodist Church Hall in Kingstown with addresses from the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and by the Chairman of the Commission Parnel R. Campbell. It was a fitting time to put the booklet on the market, what with the celebration of our 25th Anniversary of Independence. {{more}}

But, while the ceremony was otherwise a noble affair, one unfortunate incident reportedly occurred which put a damper on the spirit of goodwill that existed and must at this time and indeed always. Now if we are serious about nation building, we all have to distinguish our roles in time, place and space. It was none other than calypsonian Grantley ‘Ipa’ Constance who urged us in song to “put your country, before party.”

Thus it was, that we noted the fact that Chairman of the CRC Parnel Campbell, had occasion to apologise to the Prime Minister for actions which came from one of his own commissioners.

And the reported action of Israel Bruce, a member of the Constitutional Review Commission has to come into question.

There is a saying, “that manners and behaviour carry you through the world.” The brash person, whether through arrogance, ignorance, or indifference will dismiss such utterances and declare that once you have money to pay your passage, you don’t need manners or behaviour.

But the morals and lessons are simple, and discipline, respect and courtesy still remain planks of any decent society. No doubt our cherished principles are rapidly being placed on the down heap of history.

And actions of persons in positions of influence ought to be more responsible when placed on the national stage.

It seemed unfortunate therefore that Commissioner Bruce seems to have forgotten his role when he showed what was interpreted as open disrespectful behaviour at a function staged by the CRC last Wednesday.

The responsibility thrust on the shoulders of the men and women of the CRC is serious. One expects that those overseeing the process of guiding discussion toward the shaping of a new constitution for this country would demonstrate qualities symbolic of statesmen and women.

Now as a Commissioner, one does not have to agree with the views of the Prime Minister or admire the country’s leader for that matter; but his position ought to be respected and more so, when that person is attending a function as your guest. And, to give Dr. Ralph Gonsalves his due, he has shown commitment toward allowing the process of changing this country’s constitution.

The unfortunate actions by Commissioner Bruce must be one of the actions he would want to apologize for and move on with his nascent political life. His nomination by his party is a serious responsibility as member of the Commission. But given his actions and churlish behaviour to the Prime Minister and CRC’s chairman Parnel Campbell, his continuation on the CRC might be an embarrassment to his party.

The work of the CRC has to be nationalistic, devoid of party political bias. That may be impossible, but we have to summon the fortitude and rectitude to ensure that we rise above party political squabbling and get on with the task of nation building. This is 25 years after Independence, and we have to match our behaviour with our age. We are growing up, with pride.