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PR Campbell gives 12 reasons to say Yes

PR Campbell gives 12 reasons to say Yes

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Vincentians have been given 12 reasons to vote for the proposed Constitution in the November 25 referendum by Parnell Campbell, Chairman of the Constitution Reform Steering Committee(CRSC).{{more}}

Before delving into the reasons, Campbell, on Sunday, October 11th, 2009, passionately called on Vincentians to vote ‘Yes’ for the proposed Constitution.

He told the persons who turned up at Victoria Park for the official launch of the Constitution that he had chosen to put his country before his Party on the constitution issue and they should do likewise.

The former Attorney General, who once served as a Minister in the James Mitchell led New Democratic Party (NDP) administration, has been given the cold shoulder by his own party for some time now, for his stance on certain issues, most recently, his membership on the government’s ‘Yes Vote’ Committee.

Campbell said he viewed the new Constitution is a problem-solving instrument.

During his address, he focused on situations in the past, mainly electoral matters, which had created controversy. According to Campbell, these issues are now solved by the proposed new Constitution.

The first issue addressed was the matter of crossing the floor in the House of Assembly.

On this note, he made reference to the General Elections of August 22, 1966. He said in this particular case, the People’s Political Party (PPP) had won six seats, narrowly defeating the St.Vincent Labour Party (SVLP) by two seats. The PPP administration came crashing down the following year, when Samuel Slater of North Leeward crossed the floor. He had joined the SVLP, levelling the seats in Parliament.

“Crossing the floor created a political crisis in this country. This new Constitution has outlawed floor crossing,” said Campbell.

Another issue discussed was the General Elections of April 7, 1972. In this particular case, the SVLP had secured more votes but had the same number of seats as the PPP.

James Mitchell, who had won a set as an independent candidate, broke the deadlock after he formed an alliance with the PPP, which resulted in that union forming Government, although when combined they still had fewer votes.

Campbell explained that this situation will never again happen under the new Constitution because there will be a mixture of the First-Past-the-Post and Proportional Representational Systems.

He also recalled a Motion of No Confidence that was brought against the Mitchell/PPP alliance in September of 1974. Although the motion was successful, the government had remained in office until December 9 of that year.

Campbell stated that during that period, allegations of wrong doing in the state’s treasury were rife. Under the new Constitution, he said, once a motion of no confidence succeeds, the president has the authority to remove the prime minister within three days if he does not resign, avoiding similar situations of alleged corruption.

One of the major issues put forward by Campbell was the May 16, 1989, General Elections. He noted that in this instance, the NDP polled 66.29 per cent of the votes while the Labour Party and the other Opposition Parties had polled 43 per cent of the votes. This allowed the NDP to win all 15 seats, forming a government without an Opposition.

“Under the new Constitution, that would not be possible,” Campbell said.

He then made reference to the June 15, 1998, General Elections. The Unity Labour Party (ULP) had scored the larger percentage of votes, but held fewer seats in Parliament. This situation under the current First-Past-the-Post System allowed the NDP to form government.

Campbell also spoke of the establishment of a Human Rights Commission; the matter of dual citizenship and the right to contest a General Elections; the filing of motions by the Leader of the Opposition and the issue of financial support for them; the establishment of an Electoral and Boundaries Commission; security of tenure for magistrates; the Opposition Leader as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, with the corresponding authority to summon public officials; and the creation of a Commission advising on the Prerogative of Mercy.

He added that future generations could make their own changes to the new Constitution when the time comes, “but for heaven’s sake, let us do the right thing.” (HN)

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