Go out and vote!!!

Politicians and political parties will come and go, but Grenada will always be Grenada. There will never be an ideal situation existing in our country whereby everyone would agree with all the dictates of the ruling administration, or for that matter, the views of the opposition forces of the day.

But there are times in a country’s evolution when citizens should at least try to set aside political differences for the wholesale benefit of the nation, and directly involve themselves in their own affairs, when given the opportunity to do so.

Now is such a time.

The reformation of our forty two (42) year old constitution is long overdue.

A nation’s constitution is the supreme law of the land. Its directions are incontestable, and its standing commands a position of unfettered superiority over and above any political organisation or Government administration. It is the bill of rights that people have to go to seeking justice if they ever consider that their citizens’ rights have been violated.

When Grenada was granted Independence by Great Britain back in 1974, our existing constitution was handed to us, signed sealed and delivered. It was a package that was created and fashioned by outsiders, the people who were in charge of our affairs at the time.
We had very little, if anything, to do with the drafting of those guidelines that were created in 1974 to shepherd the affairs of OUR emerging nation.

As a people we have travelled the long and winding road from slavery through colonialism into independence. In the first two dispensations we had no voice in the running of our affairs, whatsoever. Is it not time that we should have something to say about our status quo?

The fact that this document(The Constitution) needs to be upgraded in the year 2016 to better suit our contemporary needs is a no brainer, or should be, to any reasonable adult. The cry from some quarters advising people to vote NO across the board to ALL the reformation proposals is ridiculous. On the flip side, to intimate to anyone that it is compulsory that they vote YES to each and EVERY proposal in the form that it is presented, would be just as unreasonable. But vote we must.

We have heard the pros and the cons of the bills debated by various interest groups until the arguments and complaints are coming out of our ears. The proposals are on the table. The opportunity at hand to participate should be held sacrosanct by every Grenadian of voting age.

This is the first occasion since our Independence that the public would be afforded the chance to make a meaningful input into the shaping of their own destinies. My advice to Grenadians is to vote as you choose to, and not be dictated to by anyone. Don’t hold your breath waiting for a wish list of proposals put together by anybody that would be completely satisfactory to each individual or every interest group in the country. It won’t happen. The sooner we accept that fact of life, and move forward, the better for all concerned.

Could more have been done to comprehensively educate grassroots Grenadians about the process? Probably, yes. Maybe Grenadian theatre groups could be contracted to put on short skits with local actors using colloquial language and relevant TV ads etc that are cleverly utilised to take advantage of the power of visual representations.

These approaches along with newspaper exposure would go a long way towards getting the reform message out there into the communities to far more people.

But lately there has been a noticeable movement by the authorities and involved social groups towards providing more public information about the forthcoming referendum.

It would be ungrateful of us to blame CRAC (which is comprised of a diverse group of local stakeholders) for every perceived shortcoming in the process.

Dr. Alexis and his committee members took on a somewhat thankless task, but succeeded in moving the constitution reform process to a point further than it had ever reached before. Attempts at constitution reform were made by earlier commissions of 1985, 2006 and 2010.

Therefore, CRAC should be saluted and commended for their efforts.

We the members of the public-at-large also have to show more maturity, and accept a measure of responsibility. Perhaps we could have made more of a concerted effort towards apprising ourselves of the facts of the referendum by attending more public meetings.

We have a habit in Grenada of sitting back, pointing fingers, and blaming everyone else for everything that has unravelled in our society. But sometimes we have to reach across the divide to help those who are trying to help us.

On October 27th 2016 a national referendum will be held in Grenada offering the public a list of proposals for the reformation of our existing constitution. All Grenadians that are eligible to vote should take the opportunity to exercise their inalienable rights by voting their choices of whether to approve or disapprove of the individual bills as presented.

Vote Yes or No as you see fit to, but vote free of will, and not because a choice is imposed upon you by any entity, whomsoever they may be.

Roger Byer

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