Difficult Conversations – Crack Heads
The Barbados National Building Code was published in 1992, as a draft document for review and comment. It was updated and published for use in 1993. For the next 20 years, Barbadian: politicians, senior public officials, lawyers, radio moderators, newspaper columnists, editors, journalists, and building professionals, confidently asserted that Barbados only had a draft building code.
For 20 years, I asked them to examine the evidence that easily verified the truth. They would not. During those 20 years, there was a building boom. Homeowners and contractors were misinformed that the only guidance they had to build properly, was only a draft. For most of those 20 years, I stood alone in claiming that it was not.
After about 18 years, the Chief Town Planner explained that the 1993 Building Code was not a draft, and should be used. Those who misled the public, bear much responsibility for the thousands of substandard and high-maintenance houses that unnecessarily litter Barbados’ landscape today.
This unwillingness to even look at evidence that can easily settle a matter, is threatening to become part of Barbadian culture. The latest matter is Barbados becoming a republic. Added to the list of those unwilling to look at evidence on this matter, are our: ambassadors, political scientists, academics, and extreme radical activist political advisors.
They tell us that the Queen is a non-executive ceremonial position. Therefore, replacing a non-executive Queen, with a non-executive President, is something that no right-thinking Barbadian should oppose.
If that was true, then I would agree with Barbados becoming a republic. But I have learnt that when our radical activists make claims, they tend to be wrong. So, I checked, and their record of misleading the public with false claims remains unbroken.
CEREMONIAL OR EXECUTIVE?
Section 63.(1) of our Constitution states: “The executive authority of Barbados is vested in Her Majesty.” In Section 63.(2), it goes on to state that “the executive authority of Barbados may be exercised on behalf of Her Majesty by the Governor-General”.
Our Constitution describes several situations where the Governor General acts with executive authority, like when war is declared. Therefore, contrary to popular opinion, neither the Queen nor our Governor General are ceremonial positions. The only ceremonial reference in our Constitution is in the context of religious ceremonies.
Our radical activists have advised that Parliament can change our Constitution, to confer the title and function of President on our Governor General. But what does our Constitution state? Section 63.(3) explains that Parliament can confer functions on persons or authorities – except “the Governor-General.”
Our radicals have also advised that Parliament can change the Constitution to make us a republic. By now we should know the drill. If our radicals claim that something is true, and our journalists do not challenge it, then it is almost certainly false.
ALTERING OUR CONSTITUTION.
Section 43 of our Constitution allows Parliament to alter it. However, there is a limit to what Parliament can alter, so that they do not make Barbados a failed state. One limit is in Section 43.(3). It explains that alterations are not allowed if the purpose of the alteration is to establish “some other form of constitutional association between Barbados and any other part of the Commonwealth”.
Strike three, radicals. Tragically for us, that means nothing to them. They have been struck out seven times in the past two years, and have been rewarded with control of the game.
WHAT DO WE LOSE?
Our radicals claim that we will lose nothing by becoming a republic. They tell us that we should hurry to become a republic, and leave the reading of the Constitution to trained Constitutional lawyers. That is, of course, rubbish. People should read the supreme law of Barbados, that was designed to protect them from their elected officials – which is why they want to design a new one.
So, what do we lose? First, we lose our independence, then we lose our freedom. We lose our independence by politicising offices in Barbados that should never be politicised. The first office to fall will likely be our Auditor General.
LOSING INDEPENDENT OVERSIGHT
Every time our Auditor General publishes his annual report, and reveals embarrassing potential gross corruption and mismanagement by the party in power, their political operatives seethe and call for him to be fired. Fortunately for us, they cannot fire him. He is appointed by the Queen to show the public how our elected officials have actually behaved, despite their public relations appearance.
In a Republic, the measures to ensure independence are lost. We can simply compare the annual Audit Reports of Barbados with those of the Republic of Dominica, that we plan to follow, to show us what we can expect.
LOSING INDEPENDENT PROTECTION
We lose our freedom by politicising our armed forces. Our last Minister of Education, who used to be an acting Prime Minister, warned in our Parliament, that the BLP’s public criticism of the DLP could lead to the DLP “calling on the military forces of Barbados”. He explained why: “to restore order you have to crack some heads, you have to shoot some people”.
Our armed forces of: defence force, police and prisons, are under the command of the Governor-General. In a republic, the measures to ensure our freedom are lost, and our armed forces are exposed to partisan political control. When our politicians take criticism personally, they are tempted to harm us. Both the BLP and DLP have accused each other of political victimisation.
I believe that Prime Minister Mottley will exercise maximum restraint on receiving absolute power. However, eventually she will retire or be voted out of office, and the DLP will be back in Government. At that time, her true legacy would be giving absolute power to those who never renounced the way of cracking heads, and shooting people.