While the ruling New National Party (NNP) Government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is squabbling over the road map for Constitutional Amendments, nothing is being heard about a significant issue that came out from the recent High Court judgment on the Gemma Bain-Thomas matter.
The presiding judge, Justice Thomas Astaphan, QC alluded to the need for the present Constitutional Review Commission, headed by Dr. Francis Alexis to consider the matter as part of the ongoing process.
THE NEW TODAY has not heard the Mitchell government nor the Congress, led by attorney-at-law, Nazim Burke make any reference to this important plea that is coming from such an important quarter.
The judge saw the wisdom in the Alexis commission taking the concern on-board at this juncture.
As far as this newspaper is concerned, what Justice Astaphan is alluding to is more important and relevant than the noise being made about the “E” in relation to name for the two sister isles.
The judge is bang on when he said that Grenada inherited a Public Service that has regulations that were handed down to us from “a different country with a different Constitutional culture to ours”.
Britain has a professional civil service and change of government every five years does not result in wholesale changes to the top flight of the service.
In the Grenada context, the public service is highly politicized and regime change will always bring with it a rearrangement of the top posts within the service.
In the Bain-Thomas case, Justice Astaphan noted that both the PSC and Attorney-General Cajeton Hood were placed in a quagmire in terms of trying to transfer the Cabinet-Secretary to an equivalent post within the service since she was already holding the recognised position as top civil servant.
In the last page of his ruling, the learned judge said:
“ In fact, having mutually agreed that the Claimant (Bain-Thomas) should be put elsewhere, the strictures of the Public Service Regulations and the Grenada Constitution made it impossible for that to occur, given that the Claimant is the most Senior Public Servant in the System. There is no equivalent post or office to which she may be transferred, unless on assignment in her substantive post.
This the Claimant clearly recognised from the outset; hence her please to be retired. The Public Service Commission and the Attorney General (Cajeton Hood) found themselves in a conundrum, which can explain the many superseding letters as they tried to fashion a fair garment from nothing.
They tried in good faith to do so but, they were doomed by the very Constitution which governs them. In this time of Constitutional Reform, perhaps it would be prudent for that Commission to address this anomaly. I will say no more”.
The above speaks for itself.
It is the hope of THE NEW TODAY that the words of Justice Astaphan do not fall on deaf ears.
Regime change in Grenada – whenever it happens – will see some top tier civil servants having to be replaced on the basis of trust.
PM Mitchell has stated quite openly that as long as he is Prime Minister, the current Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine will remain in his post.
The previous Congress government of Tillman Thomas and Nazim Burke might have failed to understand the significance of that statement.
And if what Mr. Burke has stated is true that he could not get Mr. Antoine to make public pronouncements about the policies that were being pursued by the 2008-13 regime, then the public should understand the politics within the public service.
It is the same Mr. Antoine who is now making all kinds of policy statements under the NNP that some people now refer to him as the defacto Minister of Finance of Grenada Carriacou & Petite Martinique.
How can one expect a government other than the NNP to keep Mr. Antoine in the sensitive position of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance in the future.
If the Congress leaders had heeded the advice of the now defunct GRENADA TODAY newspaper within the early months of coming to power, it would not now be saying that Mr. Antoine outsmarted them.
It is the prerogative of a new government and especially a new Prime Minister to be comfortable with the persons that are working close and alongside him.
There is no getting away from political tribalism in Caribbean politics.
This kind of politics is the order of the day as the NNP hierarchy distributed tickets for the test match between West Indies and England at the Stadium at Queen’s Park with activists telling NDC supporters that the tickets are only for “us” and not them, on the other side.