The no vote on the seven bills that were up for referendum has prompted an elated citizen, retired civil servant and author JK Roberts to stage a one-man victory stand expressing his delight with the results of Referendum 2016.
Roberts has been a vocal critic of the Constitutional reform process used by the Constitutional Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC) headed by former Attorney General, Dr. Francis Alexis.
The activist was spotted on Friday morning standing outside the CRAC office at Queen’s Park, with a placard in hand, stating that Grenada has been saved.
He told reporters who approached him that he was not surprised by the results and was very pleased with the outcome.
“From since this administration, the New National Party came in, they talked about having a reform of the constitution. In my view Grenada has been saved. The constitution is still intact, the constitution is still here. There are problems with it… so Grenada is saved in the sense that we can now sit down relaxed, be comfortable and look at the constitution in a genuine way, look at the errors and the loopholes and see how collectively we can address it,” he said.
Roberts expressed the view that a “yes” vote on any one of the seven bills on the Referendum ballot would have resulted negatively for Grenada as the authorities had their eyes set on one bill in particular and getting the green light for it from the population.
“If there was a yes vote on any one of the bills, especially the one dealing with the Caribbean Court of Justice, the CCJ, Grenada would have been doomed. No where there would have been any meaningful medium again to have reform”, he said.
“There was no concern about governance, the powers-that-be had no concern about constitutional reform – the idea from day one has always been to advance to the CCJ and what has been done in Grenada was a disguise,” he added.
Roberts also made some passing comments on the Name of State Bill that most thought would have been heavily supported by the voting population especially on the Sister Isle of Carriacou and Petite Martinique but was also rejected by the electorate.
He said this bill was more than meet the eyes.
“This particular bill, we should derive a lot of lessons from it. One of the faults and the approach to the reform is that the powers-that-be present a team, a topic, a subject but are trying to say to people each of the topics is like the name of a book and the book itself has many pages. The powers-that-be have not given the opportunity to people to read the book and to understand the book”, he remarked.
“…So even if myself and many others are interested to have the name of the passport in that bill there was more than that. There are a lot of other things that are in there and in passing that bill you are not merely saying that you want Carriacou and Petite Martinique on the passport. We are saying many, many other things which would have infringed on our sovereignty, our territorial obligation, our taxes, our human rights … a lot of things (were) embedded in this apparently small bill,” he said.
However, Roberts stated that if there really is a need to put Carriacou and Petite Martinique on the passport, this can be done without a referendum.
“I think that can be (done) without having a constitutional reform – it can be done. They can explore the legal and administrative procedures and they can have Carriacou and Petite Martinique on the passport,” he said.
The ex-civil servant blasted the authorities for not having a proper plan to bring about constitutional reform and if they had a conscience they should not have wasted time, efforts and monies with the type of Referendum that was held.
He noted that Dr Alexis had stated time and time again that the approach was “experimental” and felt that this was too “high a cost” to be experimented with.
“…I’m saying that we need to start all over again in a more genuine and serious way to ensure that we have genuine, meaningful, realistic constitutional reform and not what has been the bad intent by attitude and approach by the powers-that-be,” he said.
Since the defeat of the seven bills, some CRAC members have been dropping hints that the CCJ bill should be put to vote once again in the national election widely expected before August 2017.