November 13, 2009
Will the new Constitution create the framework for Communism?

by Cerlian “Maff” Russell 13.NOV.09

As we move closer to Referendum Day on November 25, there are persons who support a no vote who are articulating a position that the proposed Constitution will create the framework for the introduction of communism.{{more}}

Having spent must time over the past few months educating the public on the proposed changes I would like to explore the above possibility based on the changes proposed. First let me explain that Communism exist where there is a one party state with a dictator-style leadership. Only once in our history to my knowledge that we had one party in the House of Parliament and it happened under our current Constitution in 1989 when the NDP Government won all 15 seats.

However, while the Opposition had won over 30 per cent of the votes cast (if the new Constitution was in placed then the Opposition would have had three seats) we did not have a communist state. Section 67 of the proposed Constitution, “Establishment and Composition of National Assembly” along with Section 100 will allow for ten of the 27 seats in the National Assembly to be apportioned based on Proportional Representation.

Sir. James Mitchell is in support of this in his booklet “Response to the St. Vincent & the Grenadines Constitutional Proposal” (page 10). According to Sir James: “I am pleased that the proposals put forward in the Constitutional Bill 2009 include a provision for some seats to be allocated by proportional representation (PR)”. He also indicated that “Proportional representation facilitates the creation of third parties, which has proven to be good in a democracy”.

In a communist state there is no need for any oversight of government because the communist leader basically does as he/she wishes with the public purse. Section 85 proposes three major improvements to the Public Accounts Committee over the existing Constitution, which will provide critical oversight to the National Assembly in relation to the use of the public purse.

Firstly, the chairman must be the Minority Leader with the composition being the majority of person who “do not support the Government” and thirdly, this committee will have the powers to “summon public officers before it and send for relevant public financial documents” in carrying its responsibilities.

The principles of good governance are critical to the growth of any healthy democracy, but not so critical in a communist state. Section 139 will see the establishment of an Integrity Commission, which will supervise and monitor standards of ethical conduct, practices which are dishonest and corrupt by the members of Parliament and any other public officers as may be prescribed by Parliament.

Every person (including Prime Minister and President) from time to time must declare in written their assets, liabilities and income. Can you see an Integrity Commission being established in a communist state to ask the leader to declare his net worth?

There is no place in a communist state for civil society. However, in a democracy there is a place for civil society to help deepen the process of democracy. Section 78 will allow not only the Prime Minister to invite persons from civil society to address the Parliament based on their area of expertise, but also the Minority Leader has that privilege to invite such persons with an opposing view.

In a communist state there is no human rights commission to investigate violations of poor people’s rights, or any ombudsman to investigate injustice to the poor as a result of abuse of power by public authorities. However, Sections 44 and Section 141 will establish a human rights commission and the ombudsman positions respectively.

Finally, who is so mannish to tell elected members that they have to formally report to their constituents once every six months as part of improving the quality of representation unless that person is the “Maximum Leader”. Section 87 of the proposed constitution mandates every representative, including the Prime Minister, to have such a formal meeting and report in writing to the National Assembly or risk being named and shamed by the Speaker of the House. This I wish had gone further to include a section on recall.

Editor, having outlined several sections of the proposed new Constitution it is clear to me that in no way the proposed Constitution will create or facilitate any framework for the establishment of a communist state, but rather encourages good governance, deepens democracy, and allows for increased accountability and integrity in governance.

To you who are blinded by your politics I encourage you to read the above sections because these are the reasons why I am voting YES.