Have we missed a golden opportunity for change?
Editor: Have we missed the golden opportunity for change when in 2009 we voted NO to a new constitution? As the days and years roll on we are seeing the effects of our choice not to change the constitution and adopt a new one.
In 2009 many voted NO because of political reasons. Very few voted along non – political lines. The proposed New Constitution should have been voted on based on its contents, rather than political party’s persuasion. For the sake of time and space, I would highlight just a few changes that would have occurred if we had changed the constitution but is now coming back to bite us.
Today we would have been a republic state, rather than remaining Independent where we still pay homage to the queen. It would have meant that as a republic nation we would have replaced the Governor General with A President. Hanging, though it is still on the books is almost impossible to take place due to the fact that those who are sentenced to hang go to the Privy Council and their sentence is commuted to life imprisonment. But had we changed the constitution the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) would have been our final Court of Appeal rather than the Privy Council. So persons who are sentenced to hang in some cases would still be hanged.
If we had changed our constitution, for sure the NDP would be in government today, since it would be proportional representation where it would have been by the majority of votes received, rather than first past the post where it is by the amount of seats. There would have also been a set period in which elections ought to be called. It would not have been at the pleasure of the Prime Minister as it is now.
In the proposed new constitution the powers of the Prime Minister would have been reduced and the Opposition leader who would then be referred to as ‘Minority Leader’, would have had an increase in powers.
Of importance also was the fact that Ministers could be recalled if they failed. More can be said, but suffice it to say that as Vincentians we played politics with almost everything. As a result we voted NO simply because of party politics. Rather than trying to understand what it was all about, we gave in to propaganda and voted NO. Let’s bear in mind that it had nothing to do with party politics.
Maybe today we are living to regret voting NO for a change in the constitution. I pray that as Vincentians we would soon grow to maturity and put country before party. It is my prayer that we would reach the stage in our development that we would look at things nationally and embrace the good regardless who is the Prime Minister and let go of the bad. May God bless SVG.