Former AG blasts Constitutional Reform

As Grenada moves closer toward constitutional reform in 2015, the process has received a massive blow from former Attorney General, James Bristol who appeared on a recent edition of “Sundays with George Grant”.

Bristol, who served briefly as the chief legal adviser to the Tillman Thomas-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration, said he believes that the current path to constitutional reform is misleading.

Bristol spared no effort in stating that no serious effort has been seized to do a proper constitutional reform rather than what is now being put forward.

The former Attorney General labelled the process being undertaken as clearly an attempt to get rid of the Privy Council in London, England.

The Constitutional Reform process is being spearheaded by another former Attorney-General, Dr. Francis Alexis who was once associated with Congress.

According to Bristol, the proposals that have been submitted to government by the Alexis-led Constitutional Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC) do not seem to reflect the views of the general public as to what is really needed in Grenada at this point in time.

Bristol pointed to “good governance”, a theme that was often championed by former Prime Minister Thomas.

The former AG suggested that constitutional reform should remove the power given to the Prime Minister to appoint the Commissioner of Police, as well as members of the Public Service Commission, and moving around Permanent Secretaries which he said are problems that affect the country on a daily basis.

“People are hungry for proper governance, they are hungry for progress, they want to see something different, they want to feel, they want to have hope but the way that the present system is, it does not give us hope because the constitution is being manipulated or used in such a way as to create in effect a dictatorship,” he told the programme host.

According to Bristol, there is a need for proportional representation to be included in the constitutional reform process in light of the results coming out of the 2013 general elections in which the New National Party (NNP) of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell won all 15 parliamentary seats.

Bristol stressed that the vote in Grenada was almost spilt 50/50 between the NNP and NDC which failed to secure a seat in the poll.

He noted that the NNP only received a few more votes than the NDC in most constituencies but it managed to capture all of the 15 seats.

“It is not a true democracy because it does not reflect a composition of Parliament, it does not reflect the people,” he said.

Bristol indicated that reforms calls for a rewriting of the constitution and believes that the work done in the past by the late Professor Simeon McIntosh embodied the things that are relevant for the constitution.

The Mitchell-led government has committed itself to holding a referendum in 2015 to bring about constitutional reform in the Spice Isle.

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