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The No Campaign running out of points

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02.OCT.09

Editor: The various points of argument and the space for the No campaign is now getting narrower and narrower. Over the last three months certain arguments seem to have rapidly fallen by the wayside.

(1) The term Inalienable Rights was inserted into the new constitution and now no longer an issue.{{more}}

(2) The Leacock amendment requesting funding for constituencies in the budget was also included, and this shifted his own opinion that there were significantly improvements in the constitution. (However, he was a party man).

(3) There was a hue and cry about voting clause by clause, but on September 15th the Leader of the Opposition stated for the first time that our current constitution does not allow voting clause by clause. Everyone then asked, why this revelation came so late? Was it only recently that Arnhim Eustace realised that this was unconstitutional or did he always know it? After hours of valuable radio time wasted on this non-issue, preventing discussion and education of our people, we conclude that this issue was a big Red Herring and has now been finally put to rest.

(4) The Leader of the opposition’s claim that PR Campbell, who was the CRC chair until 2007, cannot be part of a Vote YES campaign suggests that he does not read his documents properly and his research team is non-functional. Campbell is currently the Chair of the Constitution Reform Steering Committee (CRSC) with a mandate to ensure reforms takes place. This also begs the question, who else that disagrees with him won’t he sit with or talk to.

(5) The 2007 Revised CRC Final Report (clauses 48 and 56) emphatically recommended a non-executive President. The CRC having canvassed the people’s views over six years stated that “an elected Executive Head of State is likely to wield considerably more power than a Prime Minister. Moreover, the concept of an Executive Head of State is incompatible with a Westminster Parliamentary system”. It was a puzzle that a few weeks before the New Constitution Bill was brought to the house on Sept. 1 2009, those backing a no vote stated verbally that they wanted an overpowering nationally elected Executive President but never brought a single written document to suggest how it could be done.

(6) Most persons are astonished as to the extent the Prime Ministerial power’s have actually been reduced or redistributed to other entities and more-so that the current PM has been the biggest cheerleader and supports it. They ask quietly, in what other ways can the powers be reduced without making the PM’s position a political Enoch, creating chaos and jeopardising the smooth function of government?

(7) Compensation for land acquired by the state is the latest issue to be falling by the wayside and this is as a result of slowly educating the people with simplified explanations by expert and our people’s own readings. In the current constitution it only states “adequate compensation” to be paid within “a reasonable time”. The Land Acquisition Act (Chapter 241) lays down that the date of the assessment of the value of the property should be 12 months before the acquisition. The new Constitution will ensure that compensation for property acquired shall be paid within 12 months of the date of the compulsory acquisition and not just in a reasonable time. It also changes the hard-and-fast 12-month before valuation rule. It now says – without limitation as to the date at which compensation should be assessed and that compensation should be “fair and reasonable” to the person entitled to compensation and also to the State. It is now better understood that terms like “current market value” or “open market value” do not cover all the possibilities and can be worse or a disadvantage and unfair to some persons depending on the method used for the evaluation.

(8) Finally, Sir James has only further confused the No campaign by expressing his own views many of which differ from that of Eustace, like the number of Senators and the Privy Council but he did not anticipate the Lord Phillips pronouncement some feel was induced by his idle boast of how free it was. With all these issues effectively dead, what is there to prevent people from voting YES! Well, unfortunately the debate is about to sink to some new lows. There will be further personal attacks on PR. Campbell. They will try to sell that you can’t trust Ralph and old grudges will emerge from the closets. Or bogus claims and lies like you the dollar will have to change. On the other hand the people have been presented with the facts, the truth and documents that they can read for themselves, and I have no doubt that the people will overwhelmingly vote YES!

Dr. J. Thompson

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