Former government minister, Kenny Lalsingh has branded as “political” the recently held constitution reform in Grenada.
Lalsingh who added his voice to the debate over the failure of seven Constitutional Bills to receive the required two-thirds majority in order to become part of the Grenada Constitution said the voting process had nothing to do with constitution reform.
“I believe it was more political than anything else,” said the former President of the Senate.
The former Member of Parliament for St. Patrick West told a radio station in the north of the country that he was disappointed with the outcome of the November 24th referendum.
However, he said the lesson coming out from the referendum is that the people should not be taken for granted.
Grenadians were asked to vote on the Caribbean Court of Justice and other Justice-related matters, Elections and Boundaries Commission, Ensuring the appointment of Leader of the Opposition, Fixed date for General Elections, Name of State, Rights and Freedoms, and Term of Office for Prime Minister.
Lalsingh confessed to voting for all the Bills as he believes none of them were detrimental to the country.
However, he felt that the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC) should have indulged in some more rigorous education process to get the people to have a better understanding of the constitution.
According to Lalsingh, the constitution referendum failed because “no one person heard it long enough.”
“Educating yourself on the constitution is a long process… so I think we have fallen short,” he said.
The leading St. Patrick businessman suggested that there was insufficient knowledge of the process by the people.
Lalsingh stated that the referendum was a good exercise and all is not lost and although failing as a “yes” vote, the country has succeeded in starting the process.
“So in starting the process, we were not able to achieve what we set out to do, but we should not stop,” he said.
Lalsingh would like the powers-that-be to immediately resume the process of constitutional reform and that it should begin at the secondary schools, and the T.A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC).
“People do not know about the Constitution of Grenada… and I think that is the failure. We have to educate them about the entire constitution,” he said.
Local pollster Jude Bernard said a survey he conducted reflected the likely voter turn out at the Constitutional Referendum.
However, Bernard said he thought some of the Bills would have had received a majority vote but not sufficient enough in terms of the two-thirds to go through.
“I was not surprise that just over 30 percent (eligible persons) turned out,” he remarked.
Bernard pointed out that he is relieved that the Bills did not get the required number of votes because if the referendum was successful, some of the Bills would have caused disaster and chaos in the country.
“I was relieved that it didn’t happen, but I was very saddened, and I am still very saddened because… this would be to me a labour of love,” he said.
The pollster admitted that three years of preparation for the referendum was wasted.
“Let us start listening and stop labeling. In Grenada, nobody wants to listen,” he said.
Bernard spoke of not being affiliated to any political party, but was just speaking his mind about what he thinks is best for the country, and that unless some people learn to listen and stop labeling others, the country will never advance as a people.
“The only chance of looking good is to make somebody look bad,” he quipped.
Bernard charged that the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC) that was headed by former Attorney-General, Dr. Francis Alexis fell short of putting the necessary structures in place.
He accused CRAC of having operated as a Board of Directors of a private company.
According to Bernard, he was asked by Dr. Alexis in 2014 to organise a consultation, and within five days he compiled a ten-point plan of how to approach that consultation.
However, he said they disregarded his plan and chose to have a Town Hall meeting with presentations and a few minutes set aside for questions and answers.
Bernard said the state of governance in the country has to be looked at, but the people have to be engaged in a respectable way.
Political Leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has already hinted that a Congress Government will continue to complete the process of Constitutional Reform through a Constituent Assembly.