Assessing Sir Brian’s intent.

“The Instrumentalities of Democratic Governance under the Constitution of Dominica.”
I like the introduction quotation to Sir Brian’s lecture on our constitution; the importance of’, and for our collective ‘recognition’ of’, abiding by its principle’s and intent. Yes we continue to manipulate the ‘interpretations’ of intent; yes we continue to stretch the limitations of intent, and manipulate the questionable provisions that allow for it. This is a civic lesson for us all to learn from’, one which reminds us of the values and moral obligations we once cherished; ones which protected us from the perils we are challenged with today, and are failing ‘miserably’ as a people in compliance with. 
It paints a picture of a continuous, ‘progressive failure’, and demise of our already fragile democracy; a downward spiralling of our moral and ethical convictions, over the last 20 plus years; one inherited by this Prime Minister and perpetuated by a growing dissent and discontention in public confidence; one which continues to erode the fundamental bases of our existence as a God fearing Christian community.   “I would wish to use this opportunity to reflect on some issues of good governance and in that context to take a critical look at some contemporary practices and attitudes that appear to be emerging in the exercise of governance in Dominica.”
Seems to me that we are being cautioned about a ‘worrisome’ emergence in governance’ trends, compounded by the prevailing attitudes in both governance and opposition.
A reminder that our suggestions to embrace such matters should include ‘traditional’ ways of governance, public and private partnership, planning flexibility, strategic, communicative or development planning; open and transparent governance.

“There can be no worse example in a republic than to make a law and not to observe it; the more so when it is disregarded by the very parties who made it.”
Not quite sure how to construe this statement, but do not like its insinuation or intended relevance. It is suggestive of a capitalization and undemocratic manipulation of provisions governing constitutional enactments of protection. This is a worrisome observation!

“The resort to criminal prosecution, as under the integrity legislation, is the regrettable consequence of the failure of  those entrusted with public responsibility and power to exercise that power in the interests of the society, but who choose instead the path of self aggrandizement.”
This is a direct warning to those who toe the line and justify their questionable actions with conjectural interpretations of the act. I like this tone; it renews my ‘diminished’ faith in those entrusted to protect our constitution and uphold the laws governing our democracy. 

“Members of the opposition also need to take their responsibilities to the public at large very seriously. In a real sense they are the guardians of the public interest, and are expected to keep a critical eye on all public policies and practices. Particularly through the Public Accounts Committee, they are expected to be the guardians of the public purse and to ensure financial accountability in public expenditure.”
A contention close to my heart; a recognition and admission of the failures of the opposition’s ability in representation of the people; a reminder of their democratic oath and purpose in safe guarding the public’s interest; one negated by their boycott of parliament! 

The Speaker is bound by the Rules and conventions governing the conduct of the proceedings of the House. He is not the servant of the executive, and indeed is bound to jealously preserve the privileges of the House and its members against any incursion by the executive.
Admission of the partisan alliance shown by the speaker to the executive. This is a tragedy and undermines the credibility of the house. This is a blow to an already perceived ‘weak’ democracy in Dominica. This is indeed worrisome and is not necessary in a house run by an overwhelming majority.

Impartiality and neutrality are essential characteristics of the office of Speaker in such a democracy.
To protect the executive from embarrassing questions, or to obstruct members in the proper exercise of their legitimate functions, would be a betrayal of the proper role of the Speaker as the custodian of the rights of Honourable Members in a Westminster style Parliament. The arbitrary exercise of power by the Speaker, no less than by any other public official, is an abuse of power.
Again reiterating the importance of the Speaker being impartial and neutral. This repetition of the same message is a subtle measurement of the Speakers partiality to the executive!  

“The Constitution does not explicitly say so, but the President is clearly entitled to advise, to caution and to warn the Prime Minister.”
The President is clearly being reminded of his ‘obligation’ to the people in upholding the ‘ethical’ mandate of his office. Turning a blind eye is not an acceptable or measurable response! 
“Another very important Constitutional office, and one that has received no attention whatever in the time since the coming into force of our Constitution 32 years ago, is the office of Parliamentary Commissioner, otherwise known as the Ombudsman. This office is provided for under chapter IX of the Constitution, in mandatory terms; “There shall be a Parliamentary Commissioner for Dominica who shall be an officer of Parliament……”.21 The Commissioner is an independent officer of Parliament, appointed by the President after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition (note, not on the advice of, but after consultation with). It is an appointment in which the President exercises his independent judgment.”
Well thank you Sir Brian for reminding us of a constitutional breech by our governance since independence! One which would ‘compliment’ and strengthen the purpose of the IPO commission; one which would ensure the measurement and ‘true’ deliverable of the Integrity in ‘good governance’ we so desire. I have been very vocal for this appointment, and the ‘lack of constitutional’ respect shown by our ‘present and past’ governance by its neglect!

In conclusion
Sir Brian has informed us of our failures as a people; has reminded us of our civic responsibilities, and warns us of the pending consequences of our ignorance and partisan approach adopted to date!



  2 comments for “Assessing Sir Brian’s intent.

  1. Louis B Robinson
    December 12, 2010 at 4:21 AM

    Assessing Sir Brian’s intent.
    Chris, I applaud your comments on Sir Brian’s lecture, and wondered why there have been no earlier comments.

    I too made some observations on the well delivered lecture, which addressed several relevant and pertinent issues, but failed to do the relevant compare and contrast analysis as it relates to the composition, level an quality of discourse in the parliament, and the quality, character, ethical values, and general professionalism of persons who occupied the speaker’s chair, before condemning the parliamentary opposition for its protest action.

    To have omitted these comparisons, was a grave error, and deprive the younger generation who have only the last ten years from which to take example, necessary information upon which they can form opinions from an informed perspective.

    And so I believe the saddest thing is that Sir Brian Alleyne was not challenged on his comments about opposition using the Public Accounts Committee to seek answers to questions.
    Now I don’t know about anyone else, but I believe it is time that our so called people of high repute stop insulting the intelligence of those Dominicans who can be truly said to have some intelligence.
    Here is a learned lawyer, esteemed retired acting chief justice of the EC CA, and a former minister of government and member of parliament for 15 years, as well as a member of the impotent IPO, and yet instead of educating the people to the effectiveness, or lack thereof of this toothless bulldog called The Public Accounts Committee, he continues o perpetuate this lie and mislead the people into believing that this sub-committee of the parliament has any power at all.

    In his speech, he conveniently forgot to compare and contrast the composition of the parliament when the late Mary Eugenia was leader of the opposition, the level and quality of the discourse in the parliament, the quality of the speakers then as to what is obtained since 2000.
    Imagine, that the IPO has the power to recommend sanctions against failing, to provide, or providing inadequate information to the commission, yet this impotent commission fails to use its authority under the law, and he is a member of that commission, yet he castigates the opposition for not going to the parliament to use a committee that has no sanctioning authority for failing to answer questions by anyone called before it.

    The learned retired Justice, in his wisdom, of which he is supposed to have much according to his status conveniently did not tell his audience that there are no sanctions, or punishment for not answering any questions asked by the committee of anyone , and that when the same committee sought answers of the Minister of Finance and the Director of Audit on the funds expended on the Red clinic, and as to the now infamous Garbage Bins, and the subsequent source of the refund these people refused to answer the committee’s questions.

    The learned, and esteemed gentleman, for indeed he is learned and esteemed conveniently did not say that there has been no committee report laid in the parliament since 2000 when DLP came to office, that any report must be presented by the Prime Minister who is leader of the parliament.

    You see in assessing the totality of the opposition’s decision to boycott the parliament, in protest these and other issues including electoral reform, these pertinent facts are relevant and indeed very important, but of course when persons like my dear friend Gabu, and the esteemed retired Justice conveniently forget to make these pertinent information available so that the public can form an informed opinion, I believe that they are been intellectually dishonest, and it raises questions about their credibility, and sincerity of purpose.
    But again this is just my humble belief, not any longer an opinion.

  2. Philipson Dobson
    December 20, 2010 at 2:13 AM

    Assessing Sir Brian’s intent.
    You Know, I feel everyone is right. I always mantain, although I favour the principle that Sir Brian articulated, of full attendance and participation in the House, I feel it is not absolute rather relative and a tool that can be used when and where necessary to make a point, send a message etc. In this case , the UWP decided to use this weapon, and I see some benfits because it is the only disposable and effective one which brings attention to their cause and that of the country.
    Nelson Mandella says he will not apologise when interviewed by a prominent journalist way back then when the struggle of arms, protests., strikes was initiated. Some say, it is the crippling of the country`s econony, however the plight and suffering of the Black people had t be considered and that approach they thought was the only visible, achievable means. Look where South Africa is today and look who became President and left, exited with credilbility and clean hands. Sorry cannot say same for our PM….it is sad.
    The struggle goes on.
    Now while the UWP was in Roseau with a meaningful crowd on a working day, the impact was felt. The gathering was credible, was for justice, peace, educvational, informative, accountability, our money etc…whiloe on saturday,. the DLP, will have a SEWO , party celebration, a distraction from the truth, distract the poor people at all costs, with loud noisey music and nice sayings, but the issue of the Bib bobol, land transfer, eligibiloity for elecgtion (on own admission) etc will not come out tpo that crowd, because PM is protected..And as anold woman shouted out in lagoon :it is only a little he voleur wi….leave him alomne..” well…well..well…… this is it. We are really at the next level……
    God Bloess

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