The constitutional breach in the Senate

Just before the Ceremonial Opening of the 10th Parliament, it was announced that Glynis Roberts will be made a Senator. This announcement was a matter of interest to us in the NDC because the three interest groups: the farmers, the business community and labour had already announced their Senators; and on March 21st 2018, Her Excellency invited us to submit 2 or 3 names for consideration to be appointed Opposition Senators. We submitted: Glen Noel, Ron Redhead and Kerryne James.

Section 24 (2) of the Constitution of Grenada is very clear. It provides that the Governor General shall appoint 7 Government Senators on the advice of the Prime Minister, 3 Opposition Senators on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition and 3 independent senators on the advice of the Prime Minister, after the Prime Minister has consulted with organisations and interests that he considers should be represented in the Senate. Therefore, by virtue of this section, there could never be an independent Senator who does not represent a specific organisation or interest. Neither could there be 4 independent Senators.

The Constitution envisages that even when there is no Opposition Leader, there is still some Opposition representation in the Parliament by the Governor General appointing Opposition Senators. Section 62 (2) provides that in the absence of an Opposition Leader, the Governor General assumes that role and appoints the 3 Opposition Senators in his or her own deliberate judgment. The Governor General is therefore required to do as an Opposition Leader would have, appointing 3 Opposition Senators.

On the matter of the appointment of Mrs. Glynis Roberts to the Senate, Dr. Mitchell said she was appointed to represent the “religious community”. Added to that, Fr. Sean Doggett, Communications Officer with the Conference of Churches Grenada (“CCG”), told MTV News on Wednesday 25th April 2018 that reports that Roberts was representing the organisation in the Senate is: “not really correct because the CCG does not have a representative in the Senate as such.”

He said further that, “Her Excellency decided to consult a number of groups including the Conference of Churches….and the CCG submitted a number of names to Her Excellency for consideration and we are very happy that Her Excellency has chosen Mrs. Roberts from that list.”

The question therefore is, if the CCG was invited to submit names, and Mrs. Glynis Roberts’ name was submitted and she was in fact appointed a Senator, how come then, could Fr. Sean on behalf of the CCG suggest that Mrs. Roberts is not representing the CCG? Who then is she representing? Mrs. Roberts neither contested the elections herself nor belongs to an organisation that did.

Mrs. Roberts’ appointment in any other capacity except as a Government Senator is most distasteful and inappropriate. It is nothing more than a vulgar attempt to unconstitutionally appoint an eighth Government Senator to the Parliament.
Mrs. Roberts was seen openly campaigning with and for the NNP’s Candidate for South St. George all over that Constituency. Added to that, on the eve of elections, she published a video containing most damaging propaganda material on our Party Leader V. Nazim Burke and the National Democratic Congress.

The fabrications in the video were so vulgar that even those who did not support the NDC, cried shame on Mrs. Roberts. With those notorious facts available, it is indeed very unfortunate that the CCG submitted Mrs. Roberts’ name to Her Excellency for consideration.

This signals that the CCG is not concerned about the openly partisan posture taken by one who, according to the Prime Minister at least, represents “the religious community” in the Senate.

The National Democratic Congress strongly condemns this brash violation of our Constitution and will continue to protest this for as long as there remains an illegal effective eighth Government Senator in the Parliament.

If the Prime Minister wants to have the CCG or any other religious community group represented in the Senate, as is his right under the Constitution, then one of the current three interest groups must be dropped. That is what the Constitution requires.

It is clear to the NDC that NNP and its surrogates and hacks are once more playing fast and loose with the Constitution of Grenada.

The NDC calls on Her Excellency to immediately rectify this on-going breach of the Constitution and on other civic minded groups and individuals to join with us in condemning this flagrant abuse of power.

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