Fri | Jul 20, 2018

Sophia Frazer Binns | Will history absolve Mr Holness?

Published:Wednesday | July 11, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Sophia Frazer Binns
Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
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Here we go again. According to Andrew Holness, "Let the people decide." Why is it that the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), through the years, has all too often sought to be on the wrong side of the right action, the law and our constitutional provisions?

We can begin with the year 1983, even though the examples abound long before that time. Coming out of the forgettable 1980 general election, then People's National Party (PNP) President Michael Manley extracted from then JLP leader Edward Seaga a pledge that no general election would be called until our electoral framework had been placed upon firm footing.

The electoral authorities had set about that task in earnest when, in mid-stream in 1983, Mr Seaga could not resist latching on to the opportunity to call a fresh election, presented by certain unfortunate events in our sister CARICOM territory, Grenada.

The solemn promise then suddenly meant nothing to Prime Minister Seaga; electoral fortunes, to him, trumped right action.

Bruce Golding eventually took over as JLP leader and in 2007 became prime minister. Without batting an eyelid, the new prime minister moved swiftly to disturb the constitutionally driven path adopted by the Public Service Commission over the years, and, in the process, dragged the then governor general into the unpleasant activities that came to surround the appointment of a solicitor general.

Mr Golding did not stop there. He soon felt himself obliged to bring Jamaica into mutual legal assistance conflict with our powerful neighbour to the north over the sought extradition of a strongman in his constituency of West Kingston. The position that was adopted by the then JLP government served to land Jamaica almost at the brink of being labelled a pariah state.

 

CONSTITUTIONAL BREACH

 

Then came Andrew Holness to assume the leadership of the JLP, taking over as prime minister in 2011. Soon thereafter, as leader of the Opposition, in clear breach of our Constitution, he proceeded to extract from prospective opposition senators pre-signed letters of resignation, in case any of them should seek to vote in favour of Jamaica delinking from the Privy Council in the United Kingdom and to subscribe fully to the Caribbean Court of Justice.

And now, regarding that same Privy Council-Caribbean Court of Justice issue, Mr Holness maintains: Let the people decide. The only thing is that the Privy Council itself has advised Her Majesty, our head of state, as to the process that is to be employed; and that process has nothing to do with 'let the people decide'. But, as usual, after consistent fashion, the law, even as it is laid down by our highest court, means nothing to the leadership of the JLP.

Little wonder, therefore, as the opposition leader has observed, that the manner in which Mr Holness has approached the issues relating to Andrew Wheatley and Petrojam is completely contrary to constitutional principles.

- Sophia Frazer Binns is an opposition senator. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and sfbinns@gmail.com.