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HomeNewsCaribbean NewsGrenada needs an official opposition in the lower house of parliament

Grenada needs an official opposition in the lower house of parliament

By Hudson George

During the month of November 2019, the Grenada parliament met in session to present the budget for the year 2020.  In the opening session, there was no official opposition member of parliament in the lower house but as most Grenadians expected, an elected member of the lower house Tobias Clement crossed the floor.

Before the opening of parliament, Grenadians were more interested to see or hear whether or not Clement who is the member of parliament for St George North East was serious about previous statements he made in parliament in terms of leaving the ruling The New National Party (NNP) government and party, or if he was just bluffing.

I was following the news to hear if he would follow-up on his threats of leaving the government. Now, based on the statement Clement made, he thinks that he was not treated fairly by the prime minister. He even made a reference about Clifton Paul, a former member of parliament for St Patrick East whom he thinks was treated unfairly.

Based on his comments he believes that himself and Paul were not taken seriously by the prime minister; although they were successful in defeating the two most powerful members of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) candidates in the general elections.

In the 2013 general election, Clement defeated former NDC deputy prime minister Nazim Burke and in 2017 he successfully defeated Burke for the second time. On the other hand, in the 2013 general election, Paul defeated former prime minister Tillman Thomas at the polls.

So now the political ball game is in Clement’s court to make a decision to become the official opposition leader in Grenada parliament with legal rights to select three senators to sit in the upper house; because Grenada second most popular party the Democratic National Congress (DNC) did not win a seat in the 2013 general election. He can also strike a deal with DNC as another option.

Basically, I personally believe Grenada needs a vibrant opposition with elected members of parliament in the lower house. And as long as one party keeps on winning all the seats in the general election the prime minister and his cabinet will continue to have too much state power in their domain that cannot be challenged.

In addition, it is almost five decades since Grenadians are struggling to understand the functions of British Westminster style democracy. Therefore, that type of political mindset has created so much divisions among the people, and a large percentage of them are still looking for charismatic leaders, to lead them with the intention to follow blindly as they did in the past.

Presently, Grenada is the only English speaking CARICOM Member State with a Westminster parliamentary legislature that named important infrastructures, such the international airport, and a popular busy road after a dictatorial leader, who took power by arm uprising and suspended the democratic constitution and ruled with a communist-style Central Committee as the highest decision making institution.

Grenada is the only British Caribbean CARICOM Member State that elected a political party on three different occasions in general elections to govern for five years term, without any official elected opposition members of parliament.

Grenada is the only Caribbean CARICOM Member State where former members of a communist government central committee are given the privilege to join political parties that accept multiparty democracy.

And although they are accepted in multiparty democracy of government, serving in the national Westminster style parliament in the upper and lower legislature without any shame. Some of them are still openly defending their brand of progressive leftwing politics of the past as the best period in Grenada’s political history.

Now the big question is: What will be the future for democracy if we continue to elect a government without NO opposition in the lower house?

 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. The writer says: “because Grenada second most popular party the Democratic National Congress (DNC) did not win a seat in the 2013 general election. He can also strike a deal with DNC as another option.”

    There is no party in Grenada by that name, so it’s not possible for Tobias Clement to strike any deal with a non-existent party.

    In reference to Grenadians – voters – the writer says, “a large percentage of them are still looking for charismatic leaders, to lead them with the intention to follow blindly as they did in the past.”

    While the culture of the “charismatic leader” is very much ingrained in the psyche of Grenadian voters, the impact of the level of victimization, intimidation and bribery, by the ruling party, cannot be disregarded in such an evaluation.

    Here’s some examples: a retired civil servant had to refrain from living up to a commitment, to appear on the platform of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) – the main opposition party in the Grenada – because his offspring, who is a young civil servant, is fearful of the negative repercussion this can have on their employment status, and therefore begged him not to. Additionally, we’ve seen the manner in which Ms. Gemma Bain-Thomas – Cabinet Secretary – was dealt with, by this prime minister/administration, and has had to seek redress in the court. Although the court has found in her favour, she’s yet to be compensated.

    The following link takes you to the decision by EASTERN CARIBBEAN SUPREME COURT, IN THE COURT OF APPEAL, which concluded in part:
    “a declaration is hereby granted that the decision of the Public Service Commission to appoint Mrs. Bain-Thomas to the post of Executive Director of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Finance Commission from 17th February, 2014 was unconstitutional, null and void.”

    It further states, “that Mrs. Bain-Thomas be awarded damages against the Government of Grenada for her unconstitutional removal from the office of Secretary to the Cabinet, which damages are to be assessed by the High Court if they are not agreed by the parties within 28 days of the date of this judgment. I agree too that the respondents‟ cross appeal” be dismissed and that the appellant be awarded her costs on the appeal.”

    https://www.eccourts.org/gemma-bain-thomas-v-the-attorney-general-of-grenada-et-al-2/

    There’s been a similar outcome regarding the dismissal of the duly appointed Commissioner of Police. Check link below for judgement.

    https://www.eccourts.org/willan-thompson-v-attorney-general-grenada-et-al/

    It’s instructive to note, that there hasn’t been such development on the two occasions the NDC held the reins of government.

    On the lower rung, disabled people who depend on the service of home care, by government paid operators, are threatened by these employees – who are mostly hand picked NNP supporters – that their support of the NDC will result in the removal of the service. The same goes for those who rely on government for assistance with children at school, and those on the Public Assistance Programme – a monthly allowance to mostly people of retirement age, who do not qualify for regular pension.

    The article also states: “Grenada is the only Caribbean CARICOM Member State where former members of a communist government central committee are given the privilege to join political parties that accept multiparty democracy.”

    Well, Grenada is the only ‘English Speaking’ one that had a revolution. Is the writer contending that these people should not be entitled to the same rights as other citizens? Additionally, should there be a law which says which says they are not permitted to praise the positives of the revolutionary period? I know some paint a false narrative, which gives the impression of that period being a kind of utopia.

    What about those who were soldiers of the revolution; advocated anti American/Capitalist sentiments; have traveled to the USA and other such countries; and become permanent residents or citizens; should they have been refused such opportunities?

    As for that being “the best period in Grenada’s political history:” in some cases it was, but if the atrocities committed is the yardstick used to measure that period, it definitely qualifies as the worse.

    As for the future of our democracy, I’ll leave that one for now.

  2. Once hate groups exist and active in Grenada,patriotism will diminish and there will be no constructive political party.

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