July 23, 2010
NDP: Boundaries Commission row may go to Privy Council

The legal battle between the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Boundaries Commission could end at the London-based Privy Council if the NDP does not get the outcome it wants from the local courts.{{more}}

“We have a right to go to court and we will always have a right to go to court. And, if the court does not give us what we want, we are going all the way to the Privy Council,” NDP founder and former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell said on Sunday.

He was speaking of the July 27 hearing relating to the injunction that the NDP secured on July 9 preventing the government from publishing the report of the Boundaries Commission.

NDP President and Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace has said his representative on the Boundaries Commission, former Supervisor of Elections Selwyn Jones, complained that the boundaries were decided before the Commission met.

Jones did not sign the Boundaries Report on July 9.

Mitchell told party supporters on Sunday that 56 per cent of voters, by voting no in the Referendum on the Constitution last November, indicated that they were happy with the 15 existing constituencies.

Parliament in March passed legislation increasing the number of constituencies from 15 to 17 and the Boundaries Commission, in keeping with the Constitution, decides where those constituencies should be.

Mitchell said the constituency boundaries were fundamental to the democracy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“And if your cheat and play around with the boundaries, you are playing around with the democracy in this country,” he said.

He told party supporters to be mindful that the proposed revised 2009 Constitution would have removed the right to enquire in court about changes to constituency boundaries.

“In other words, they did not want any Nicole Sylvester and Kay Bacchus-Browne to carry them to court on this fundamental issue,” Mitchell said, adding that Vincentians will always have the right to challenge these issues in court.

Sylvester and Bacchus-Browne will argue the NDP’s case, which the government has described as “frivolous”, when the injunction goes to trial next Monday.

Mitchell also responded to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves’ comments that the injunction was designed to delay the elections, due by next March.

Mitchell called on NDP supporters to help to identify names of persons who should not be on the voters’ list and said the government should invite election observers now to the country.

“Don’t wait ‘til the home stretch to say you are inviting. Invite them now,” said Mitchell who resigned from electoral politics in 2000. (KXC)