Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tobago Unsatisfied with Constitutional Reform Talks

One contributor walked out of the national consultation on constitutional reform on Monday at Signal Hill Secondary School, Tobago.
Many Tobagonians had expressed disappointment no mention of Tobago was evident in the first report issued on December 27.
However, chairman of the Constitution Reform Commission and Minister of Legal Affairs Prakash Ramadhar said the decision was made to leave Tobago out of the report as talks were held with Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Orville London, who indicated a process was already in train towards changes to be made to THA Act 40 of 1996.
But Ehioze Adunbi walked out following his contribution on Monday. He expressed disappointment in the process, stating the commission was playing with the minds of Tobagonians.
The issue of same-sex relationships, the banning of fireworks, more power to the president, and the age of the assistant commissioner of police sent to Tobago were just some of the topical views brought to the fore by various speakers.
Adunbi called on Tobagonians to tell Trinidad shape up or ship out as Tobago continues to not be treated equally.
He said Tobago continues to contribute greatly to the GDP (gross domestic product) of the country and equity is not received in return.

“I does ask myself if the national anthem is a mockery! Side by side we stand. Trinidad and Tobago is not going side by side,” he said.
Also offering her comments was former Tobago East member of parliament Eudine Job-Davis, who said the process should not be rushed and questioned why the consultation could not be held after the Carnival period.
“We should not rush this document, because it is something that has to last us for generations. ... If it takes us ten years to do a proper Constitution then so be it,” she said.
Job-Davis also called for changes to be made where the President is concerned.
“Instead of looking for an executive president, the powers of the President can be increased,” she said.
And Brent Williams called for people in same-sex relationships not to be afforded rights within the Constitution.
“In other words, an action, just as the behaviour of gays and lesbians and so forth, that’s a choice that somebody makes. It is an action that is not a right, and since it’s not a right it should not be included in the Constitution,” Williams said.
Also making contributions were former head of the public service Reginald Dumas, Newton James and George Leacock.
In responding, Ramadhar said the People’s Partnership government made a promise towards constitutional reform in its manifesto in 2010 and efforts are being made to have the necessary changes laid in Parliament before year-end.
“We may be criticised  for rushing things, but certainly the matters that have been raised are not new, they have been around for many years, lots of debates on it, but the time for action is now,” Ramadhar said.
Another consultation takes place from 5 p.m. today at Paria Suites Hotel and Conference Centre in La Romaine.


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