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Monday, June 22, 2009

St. Vincent Constitution Review: A Closer Look

The Constitution or the supreme law of any nation is a body of laws that should be instituted by the people to meet specific needs. Some of the more pertinent requirement is to safeguard the needs and rights of the people of that generation and future generations from certain ills, and to ensure that an acceptable way of life is preserved while securing the following:

  • Guard against injustice in its widest from.

  • protect societal values, morals and norms

  • Guard against Anarchy of all kind.

  • to ensure the rule of law prevails and it is actually blind,

  • Provide a justice system that is free from corruption, as well as ensure that justice is free, fair and available to all.

  • And to ensure that the systems are in place to preserved peace, foster goodwill and ensure the well being of those that dwell in that land.
The enacting or the revision of a nation’s constitution is not an assignment that should be taken lightly; neither is it a task that should be undertaken by selfish men, with egoistic personalities, who lack strength and wisdom. For such a critical endeavor can have far-reaching consequences on the people of the day and on future generation if prudence, wisdom and good judgment are not exercised.
It is no secret that I do not trust Ralph Gonsalves: the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines or any of his actions. So when I heard that he was going to undertake the awesome responsibility of overseeing a constitutional review, I took that news with a pinch of salt, tremendous worry, apprehension and fear. This along with the fact that everyone knows that anyone Ralph Gonsalves hand pick and who later receives the rubber stamp of approval from his cabinet is either a stooge or a puppet. One who is willing to Jump, hop or skip at his command.
We have seen this in the behavior and example of the following:

  • Colin Williams the Director of Public Prosecution in St. Vincent and the Grenadines: Colin was a young man with lot of positive potential who had failed to realize his potential.

  • We also have the example of Keith Miller the Commissioner of Police in St. Vincent and the Grenadines: Keith is a young man who unfortunately lived up to his true potential.

  • And there is the elder statesman: Mr. Parnell R Campbell QC, who was made to resign his N.D.P held political portfolio, by Ralph Gonsalves when he leader of the opposition. By this incident we can conclude that Mr. Campbell integrity can be questioned. In my opinion he is one who should have been wiser; but unfortunately he is one who has become giddy from going full political circle on to many occasion, one whose inconsistency have caused him to become so intoxicated that he cannot serve no objective purpose.

  • It is for these reasons that I have been going through the document that is titled "The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Constitution act 2009." As a result, my scrutinizing eyes have picked up the following discrepancies.
I was of the opinion that the constitutional review and the Commission that was to undertake that review had an objective of ensuring that the Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines kept up with the changing times, legal changes, and international advancements. However section 14 (1) of the preamble makes provision to replace the Governor General with a president. This section had therefore convinced me that; the constitution review which was ordered by Ralph Gonsalves Government was not only to bring the nation’s supreme law up to date with local, legal and international changes; but it was and is intended to equip St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the transition from an independent State to a republic. Am I the only person who was not aware that, this was the expressed intention of the constitution review or is Ralph Gonsalves and his government trying to put one over on us (Vincentian)?
I also find it strange that according to the preamble, section 6 (2) of the soon to be instituted President will have a tree years grace period to change "any" existing law that he sees fit, by publishing such in the official gazette. What is unfortunate is this part of the constitution did not specify which type of laws the president has the power to change, alter or amend. Here we have a situation where one man has the power and authority to bypass parliamentary procedures and amend any portion or body of laws he feels like; depriving the people who were elected for that purpose the opportunity to function in their capacity to draft, prepare and present amendments to bad laws to the house. This is the perfect way of sneaking a piece of no-good law onto the people, (selling them into slavery) and thus creating an unstable political and social environment. Such Wily Nelly method of changing, and or amending any portion or body of law, presents the perfect opportunity for unscrupulous men to act in their own interest or in the interest of a group etc. and sell the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the highest bidder. In such cases the highest bidder is often the head of government who is obsessed with power; or some multimillionaire from a distance shore.
Another issue I am going to address in this discourse is one which aroused my suspicions. I am very suspicious of the reason why Chapter 6, section 69 (1) (a) is so wide. This section opens up the opportunity for people with duel or more citizenship to hold elected office in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Now let us for argument sake conclude that such a person is elected or appointed to one of the political offices in the St. Vincent House of Parliament and after taking such office, that individual mess with our country’s finances and steal the little money we don’t have. Then that individual can run off to anyone of the countries they are citizen of and enjoy the good life.
In my opinion this is the Prime Minister’s way of ensuring that his son Camillo Gonsalves who is a citizen of three countries, St. Vincent the country he is least loyal to, has a secured political career in S.VG; and so this part of our constitution is dedicated to Camillo Gonsalves. I cannot see the sense in embedding such into the constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; this can and will have serious implication in the present as well as the future. It is a sad thing that we are not mature enough to think of the future; unfortunately we can only see in the now and how it is going to benefit me.
Today we are living in an era of sophisticated technological advancement, an era where there has been unbelievable advancement in teaching and teaching aids. Now people with disabilities after they have received the correct training to offset their disability; they have been attending IV league schools, attaining note worthy education advancements, have excelled in various fields, (holders of degrees) functions in many capacities and in many instances they have even excel beyond their able body colleagues. Yet we see Chapter 6, section 68 of the new and soon to be enacted constitution discriminates against people with disabilities.
Isn’t it a shameful that in such an era like this one, the new Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has discriminatory clauses? And isn’t it embarrassing that the blind, the hearing impaired and the physical disable are the ones who are subject to such discrimination.
Sec. 68 (1) "A person shall be qualify to be elected or selected to be a representative if, and shall not be so qualify to be so elected or selective unless he (the term "he" here is sexist and therefore automatically disqualifies females)

(d) is able to speak (this disqualify the person who is unable to speak no matter their academic qualification and competences there are so many intellectuals that cannot speak) and, unless incapacitated by blindness (people with the learning and ability of New York City Governor David Paterson is excluded) or other physical cause (this automatically disqualify People with the ability and tenacity of four term US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt FDR and would have automatically disqualify Larry Bascombe if he was alive), to read the English language with a degree of proficiency sufficient to allow him to take an active part in the proceedings of the national assemble.
This in its-self is indeed a primitive step which will take St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the wrong direction. Can you believe the audacity of the government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to discriminate against people with physical or other impediment? Not only in though and actions; but such evil, discriminatory and insensitive biases will soon be legally enforced; as such are embedded into the supreme law of St. Vincent, are you kidding me?

In my opinion there are too many ambiguities in the constitution as it stands. I am of the opinion that cobweb has taken over the legal minds that was entrusted with such an important responsibility. I cannot wait to read the final draft.


  1. You are absolutely right in your analysis.

  2. Darrien OllivierreSaturday, 07 November, 2009

    While I agree with most of your argument. I believe you may have misinterpreted Cap 6 Section 68:

    "A person shall be qualify to be elected or selected to be a representative if, and shall not be so qualify to be so elected or selective unless he is able to speak and, unless incapacitated by blindness or other physical cause , to read the English language with a degree of proficiency sufficient to allow him to take an active part in the proceedings of the national assemble."

    My interpretation is that the section deals with communication in the assembly proceedings. It says that a person must be able to speak and to read the English Language with a degree of proficiency as required to take part in assembly proceedings. However it makes allowance for individuals who are not able to read if "incapacitated by blindness or other physical cause".

    I do not interpret the section to be discriminatory I believe it makes concession for persons with disabilities to be elected. In essence, it says that the only reason you should not be able to read the English language well is if you are blind or have some other impediment.

    All that being said, I dont think the whole review has been handled appropriately and a great injustice has been carried out by our politicians who have made it into a party political issue, thus seeking to pursuade the populace based on political affiliation.

    Furthermore, "yes" campaigners have the nerve to say that persons who do not support the new constitution are unpatriotic!! As far as I am aware, being patriotic means doing what I feel is best for my Nation and it's People, whether that comes in the form of supporting a new constitution or maintaining the existing one.

  3. Good day Darrien Ollivierre,
    I appreciate you and your effort to continue the rational debate, as it relates to the constitution of St. Vincent; I also appreciate your interpretation of this piece of law; however, it is such ambiguity that contributes to the fattening of lawyers coffers and are the reason why they are able to make fools out of the ordinary man. For reason that is anything but honest, they fail to make their intent clear, hence the reason they attach tons of jumbles to their written and vocal expression. It is their intent to keep the ordinary man and woman in a state of confusion; for it is in our state of mental confusion we are forced to use their service.

    Now let’s break down this piece of ambiguous writing together.

    "A person shall be qualify to be elected or selected to be a representative if, and shall not be so qualify to be so elected or selective unless he is able to speak and, unless incapacitated by blindness or other physical cause, to read the English language with a degree of proficiency sufficient to allow him to take an active part in the proceedings of the national assemble."

    The sentence starts with, “A person shall be qualify to be elected or selected to be a representative if,” however before it was state in plain English, all of the eligible factors, the second sentence began and thus began to outline all the characteristics that disqualify or make a person ineligible to be so elected or selected. It makes much sense to list of characteristic which will make a person ineligible for the reason they are few. To do otherwise will be to long and will only add to the congestion of the piece of legislation. So to avoid such congestion they went on to outline those characteristics that mad an individual ineligible.

    Hence the reason why phase “and shall not be so Qualify to be so elected or selected unless he is able to” proceed the opening phase. What does this means? If an individual do not possess the characteristic that disqualify him form eligibility qualify you.

    Now, let us take a little time to analyze the second portion of the paragraph. This paragraph outlined in detail the characteristics that disqualify an individual from being selected or elected to public political office and they are divided into two categories.

    1. The disable which is specified by disability

    • “He must be able to speak” (none speakers are omitted)

    • Incapacitated by blindness (any blind person)

    • “Incapacitated by physical means” (anyone with a physical incapacity which is wide and vague)

    2. And the other category that disqualifies an individual is illiteracy (English Language): ones inability to read or write.

    Every person with an open mind is aware that Sign Language and brail are universal language and in this world with its educational and technological advancement have created an environment where a blind person may be unable to see and a hearing impaired person may be unable to hear but they are not disable. In many cases they are more able then many who has all of their senses in tact.

    What I will like to know why is the person who has a physical incapacity disqualify from holding an elected or appointed office?

  4. That is so true, why didn’t they write the constitution using simple, understandable English that the ordinary man could understand. They are only complicating English Language.