Gooding Family of Southern California Extends Best Wishes to the People of Barbados, World’s Newest Republic

Submitted by Don James (MASTER MEDIA STRATEGIES, INC)
The Gooding Family – Matriarch Shirley Gooding (left front) April (centre) back row left to right Omar, Cuba Sr, Cuba Jr and Thomas

In honor of my late husband, Cuba Gooding Sr. – who was a dual citizen of America and Barbados – I,
Shirley Gooding and family, send this congratulatory message to the country and people of Barbados for
becoming the world’s newest Republic. My husband passed in 2017. However, there’s no doubt that if
he were living, he would have attended the recent regal ceremony to witness Barbados’ removal of the
British monarch as its Head of State after almost 400 years.


As the matriarch of the Gooding family, which includes sons and actors Cuba Gooding Jr. and Omar
Gooding, daughter and actress April Gooding, and stepson and musician Thomas Ware Gooding, we
share in your joy and vision of becoming a prosperous Republic.


The Gooding family has a long history in Barbados. My husband’s ancestors were brought to the country
as slaves in the late 1700s into the early 1800s. His father, Dudley MacDonald Gooding, was born in
Bridgetown in the late 1800s. Dudley’s parents, William Gooding and Edith Augusta Walcott Gooding,
had and raised many children in Barbados. Dudley ultimately lived in Cuba before migrating to Harlem,
New York but always had a true love for his home country of Barbados.

Gooding Sr

Cuba Sr. and I first visited the lovely country of Barbados in 1998. My husband, who was the lead singer
of the legendary R&B-soul group The Main Ingredient for 47 years, was humbled and mesmerized to
walk on the same soil that his father and ancestors once walked. The visit inspired my husband to seek
Barbados citizenship, which was granted in 2001. It was perhaps his proudest honor. Over the years, he
often visited Barbados to meet relatives or perform with The Main Ingredient or as a solo artist.


As Barbados begins a new and exciting chapter as a new Republic and with a new Head of State, my
family congratulates President Sandra Mason, the country’s first-ever president, who has now replaced
Queen Elizabeth II as the country’s Head of State. We commend Prime Minister Mia Mottley and her
role in Barbados’ forward movements. In addition, we congratulate R&B and pop icon Rihanna for
Barbados honoring her as its “National Hero.” My husband greatly admired Rihanna for her unwavering
love for Barbados and saw her as a gifted and phenomenal singing star, recording artist, and performer.

In addition, we send our love to all the people of Barbados. May God bless you in your new era as a
thriving Republic. Please know that our family is proud to have deep Barbadian roots and rich Bajan
blood in our proud lineage. You will always be in our prayers and an intricate part of our future. We
look forward to visiting again.


Sincerely,
Mrs. Shirley Gooding and Family

Long Live the Republic!

For many the decision to replace Queen Elizabeth II with former Governor General Sandra Mason will mean very little to many Barbadians. Hopefully after the government delivers on the promise to engage with the public next year about what is contained in the Barbados Constitution as a prerequisite to reform, civic awareness will be heightened. 

The time must come soon when the Constitution is regarded as a living breathing document to reflect the will and aspirations of Barbadians. One suspects it is only when such a connection is made will apathy and cynicism of Barbadians at the ‘establishment’ be replaced with trust.

The blogmaster is sympathetic to the argument there was enough time for this government to have reengaged the public to deflate a narrative which suggest switching out the head of state is about naked political opportunism or laziness on the part of the Mottley government. The old people have a saying that every thing happens for a reason. The irreversible process creates the opportunity for Barbadians to be craftsmen of our fate has started, let us make the most of it.

The first step to usher in an era of citizen engagement by formalizing to a republican system will see the consciousness of Barbadians raised to fight the good fight to sustain a quality way of life for generations to come.

Key points from the blogmaster’s toast to the nation reflecting realistic expectations:

  • Relevant transparency laws are proclaimed and operationalized
  • Auditor General reports and recommendations are not ignored
  • NIS and other important SOEs are ring-fenced from political interference 
  • Meaningful reform to the education system i.e. academic, technical
  • Vetoing lip service by respecting the environment i.e. waste management, educating citizens etc
  • Honouring the adage justice delayed is justice denied by improving delivery by Barbados Courts
  • Understanding the Bajan identity and implementing relevant strategies to nurture and grow pride and industry; retaining and repurchasing strategic assets for example
  • Reallocate tourism dollars to support agriculture and entrepreneurship; cottage industries to respond to a market place that prioritizes contractual arrangements above tenure for example 
  • Transform to a model for Renewable Energy in the world by banning the use of fossil fuel to a negligible number to fuel a new economy
  • Democratize the political party system with an objective of luring citizens of integrity to the political arena. Those willing to serve country first
  • Improve public transportation to a standard when vehicular traffic is banish from selected locations
  • Oversee a system of meritocracy (nuture a performance based culture) in Barbados

Members of the BU family are invited to share thoughts on the type of Barbados we must create for our children.

Difficult Conversations – A Farce of the Highest Order

To make Barbados a Republic requires changes to the Constitution of Barbados. The proposed changes are contained in new legislation called the Constitution (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 2021. This Bill appears to violate the Constitution, so I wrote open letters to the Prime Minister and all Members of Parliament expressing my concerns.

In the Senate, Bills are to be carefully read three times before they are passed. During their first reading, our senators gave their obligatory political speeches, then it was down to business. This Bill allows the politicisation of our armed forces and the Auditor General’s office, and cancels the people’s defence insurance. So I expected the Bill to be rigorously scrutinised.

SUPERHUMAN ABILITIES.

It took me over 50 minutes to read the Bill. But I have ordinary abilities. On 6 October 2021, our Senators read the bill a second time and voted on it, in two minutes and 19 seconds. This was a pedestrian pace, because they read it a third time in all of nine seconds.

Of course, our Senators are not as gifted as our elected Members of Parliament. On 28 September 2021, they accomplished their third reading of the most important piece of legislation they will likely ever read, in two seconds – a farce of the highest order.

GO TO COURT.

When giving her closing arguments on the passage of the Bill in the House of Assembly, our Prime Minister advised those who thought that the Bill was unlawful, to argue their case in the Barbados courts. So, I filed an Application for Judicial Review on 7 October 2021.

The case was heard on 12 October 2021. I represented myself, since I could not find a lawyer willing to represent me. A senior lawyer agreed to be with me in court, to give me advice as a friend of the court. Surprisingly, the Attorney General objected to him being present, since he did not file the Application. The Judge agreed with the Attorney General (AG).

WAKE UP.

I explained to the Court that I simply wanted the AG to explain how the Constitutional amendments were not in breach of Section 49 of the Constitution of Barbados. I noted that if the explanation was persuasive, I would ask the Court to stop the proceedings, and I would accept the costs.

The Judge gave strict deadlines to file the necessary documents. I filed my initial Submissions in half of the time given. The AG was very late and unresponsive, so I filed a Notice of an Application for an Injunction to wake him up. Still no response. Then the press learnt of the case, after it had been quietly ongoing for over one month. Once it was public, the AG filed his Submissions.

FINALLY, AN ARGUMENT.

I finally got to read the AG’s arguments, and found that most of them could be refuted, and the remainder easily addressed. Much of the AG’s Submissions was spent trying to get my claim dismissed – including by claiming that I had no standing.

To have standing in a judicial review application, an applicant must be one of two persons. The first is “a person whose interests are adversely affected by an administrative act or omission” [1]. The Second is “any other person if the Court is satisfied that that person’s application is justifiable in the public interest in the circumstances of the case.” [2]

MAKING STRAW MEN.

I had applied as the Second “any other person”, and argued that fundamentally changing how Barbadians are to be governed is in the public’s interest. The AG used the straw-man defence. He falsely claimed that I was the First person, and then criticised me for not stating the interests that were adversely affected.

I filed a Submission in Response to the AG, responding to all the AG’s new arguments. I explained that I had not applied as the First person but the Second, and quoted from my Affidavit to prove this. For completeness, I also provided the interests that were likely to be adversely affected by the change to a Republic, had I applied as the First person [3].

NATIONAL INTEREST.

Shockingly, the Judge believed the AG’s straw man argument, and stated: “He has not identified if and how his interests are adversely affected.” [4], as if my Submissions in Response did not exist. The judge also noted that he was not persuaded that the application was “justified in the public interest” [4].

Instead of dismissing my claim, as parts of the media have falsely reported, the judge decided the following. “This is a matter of national importance that will see a change in the country’s governmental structure”. He continued. “The public deserves a full discussion on the legal process that facilitated the change. Instead of summarily dismissing the Claimant’s application, I shall examine it against the background of what the law requires.” [5]

NO FAIR DISCUSSION.

The judge then provided his interpretation of Section 49 of the Constitution. He appeared to simply repeat the AG’s arguments, without any discussion or reference to any of my arguments in my Submission in Response. After the Judge gave his judgement, he invited comment.

I asked the Judge why he had not referenced my Submission in Response, which generally disproved the AG’s arguments. The Judge noted that my Submissions in Response was a rehash of my initial Submissions, and he dismissed it. That was very unfortunate.

I had no knowledge of the AG’s arguments in my initial Submissions. Therefore, the only opportunity I had to address them was in my Submissions in Response. Since there has not been a fair discussion of Section 49 of the Constitution in the House of Assembly, the Senate, or the High Court, perhaps one can be gotten in the Court of Appeal.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

[1] Administration of Justice Act, Cap.109B, Section 6.(a).
[2] Administration of Justice Act, Cap.109B, Section 6.(b).
[3] Claimant’s Submissions in Response, Section C3.
[4] Decision, paragraph 24.
[5] Decision, paragraph 29.

Another Heather Cole Column – Republic or Monarchy?

Whoever has the gold makes the rules”

John Hart

Medieval Kings were created by wars and conquest and passed on their titles to their descendants. There are no kings in Western democracies. The majority in Europe are ceremonial relics of antiquity so it is highly irregular that successive governments in Barbados have created a strange phenomenon where they elevate men to the position of kings at the expense of the public purse after Independence legally ended colonialism. Perhaps it is intended to complete the gratification of the island being called Little England. It has been done decades ago for the Williams brothers and is now being done for Mark Maloney by the previous and present Administration.

The present Administration is now in the habit of sayings one thing and doing another. In theory, the Prime Minister says that she is moving the country to Republic status, notably with only a few cosmetic changes in the current system. In practice, this is not what has been happening. We have all been witness to a series of events starting with the last Administration, all of which seem bent on elevating one man in a position above all Barbadians by way of lucrative contracts and secretive sweet heart deals. In other word the making of a king. There was Coverley peppercorn deal, the Grotto, being on the board of the Central Bank, Chairman of the Boards of LIAT, the Government’s agent to buy vaccine that resulted in a scam and the list is not complete.

As far fetch as it may seem, is the change to republican status only an illusion? As act of cognitive dissonance as one writer called it a few days ago of saying one thing yet doing another.

This may be all speculative, however, what is fact is that for every asset given to Mark Maloney, there is a corresponding loss to the livelihood of present Barbadians in terms of assets that can earn revenue, to reduce taxation, to pay workers and revenue to provide for health care if the assets are put to good use.

The wealth present and of future Barbadians are also tied up in these assets so it is mind boggling why time and time again, the government is bent on giving them all away to one man. If this is what is happening, it is beyond logic that any sitting prime minister of Barbados would agree to such for financial contributions to their party or even worse if that person has sinister information on the Prime Minister. One might question what gives Mr. Maloney the audacity to approach government with these schemes and one must also question the integrity of persons elected to service who have the same audacity to misuse the funds from the public purse. It is instances like these that are the precursor to rampant corruption in any country.

In the quest for Republican status, one must not forget that the Crown owns a considerable amount of lands. The government has not mentioned what the status of the crown lands will be in the transition to a Republic. Literally, in a Republic land must belong to the people first and then their representatives. It will not like Crown land that did not belong to the people. In this grey period of transition what will happen to those lands will more be given away? Is there an existing list of crown lands to be viewed by the public?

Land is a scarce and expensive commodity in Barbados. The average man in the streets may not even be able to afford a 5,000 square feet plot of land a $25 per square feet. If he can afford it, then comes the difficulty of building a house on the said plot of land. It makes one wonder why the government of Barbados is continuously giving away this asset to a Billionaire who has already made his fortune as the expense of the public purse. Why can’t everyone else be able to enjoy their luxuries especially someone who sit in the majority 95%?

The latest acquisition that we now know of is that the 27 acres of land at Chancery Lane has been given to Mr. Maloney through a partnership with the government and is in the process of developing it at the disadvantage of the persons who live nearby. It was simply too good for them. There has been a video making its round on social media. This could be 235 lot of 5000 sq ft each for middle and low income housing!

One hopes that the Prime Minister realizes that with only 166 sq miles available, that this unnecessary giving away land is not sustainable. One may therefore have cause to wonder, if when the lands runs out will Mr. Mark Maloney will be given ownership of the beach and the sea.

If Mr. Maloney wants to be king, he has a choice, try his hand in elected politics since the Prime Minister already has her exit plan in place or start a war to conquer the 95%.

Another Heather Cole Column – The Road to the Segregated Republic

With the trend likely to continue into the month of December 2021, it is the worst of times in recent memory in Barbados. The island is the midst the valley of the shadow of death. Today Covid-19 has claimed 191 victims. The number of infected persons is on the increase and there are over 6,000 thousand of persons in home isolation. Death, fear, insecurity, discrimination, and high inflation are the order of the day in Barbados.

The government and the country are on 2 different wave lengths. While the people suffer, the government is going along with its plans to implement a Republic on November 30th. The only way to explain it, is that it is as if the people are on the ground in Barbados while the administration is millions of miles away in another galaxy with the notion that all is well in the land and not faced with the reality of a suffering Barbados.

The road to the republic was paved with greed, money, lack of good governance, government not adhering to its own financial rules and a vaccination scam until segregation appeared in the form of “safe zones” adding to the fray.

Time and time again we have heard or have been convinced that there are 2 Barbados.’ We have seen it on display in the adjudication of justice, the distinction between the wealthy and the poor, the award of government contracts, access to land and housing, jobs and placements and the list can go on, but this discrimination has never been put into law before now in a post emancipation and post-independence Barbados.

What the existence of this safe zone order means is that it is now clear that the existence of the 2 Barbados’ has become law through the Prime Minister’s Emergency Order. Basically, it is the “we against them” law that is now in effect, the basis of a segregated society. Although government has backed down on the roll out of this order, the order has not been cancelled. However, it has given teeth to some in the private sector to come up with their own guidelines.

Dr Vidya Armogan rolled out his crafted package with website and all, seeking a public private partnership so therefore the Prime Minister has knowledge of his plans. It is a plan that echoes the creation of Nazi Germany only the with dominant control by the private sector. The plan determines which company a resident of Barbados can and cannot visit. Ultimately this plan of creating safe zones will never stop the spread of the virus and perhaps the intent is not to do so. The plan will just give some who are gullible enough to believe it, a false sense of security. The one question I have for this dentist is, what will happen if it is confirmed that the vaccinated in the safe zones are the majority spreaders of Covid-19?

So, what is the trajectory here? Is it that persons who voted for this administration will be denied access to health care, jobs, education, to purchase food in the supermarket and ultimately denial to cast their vote when the next General Election is called? Are the safe zones the foundation from which the unthinkable can occur?

For those of you who may think that this idea of segregation is a fiction from the writer’s imagination, there were 2 conflicting events that occurred in Barbados yesterday. One was the public outcry to the video on Barbados Today of the dentist detailing his plans to divide and segregate society and add to the curtailed freedoms of the people of Barbados. The other was the public witnessing of the scene at Oistins last night. It was rammed with tourists at the start of the tourist season, and they were roaming without masks!

In One Barbados, we have person’s being threatened by a legal order that restricts them from entering “safe Zone” and in the Other Barbados, Tourist can enter the island without a period of quarantine and freely roam the island without masks. Perhaps someone has shared with them the BMTI’s new slogan that will not see the light of day, “Barbados: Feel Free.”

The creation may be subtle, but it is the story of segregation, and it has happened before in modern times in Germany, South Africa and the Deep South in America.

If this is just the road to the Republic, I shudder at what the Republic may bring.

This island needs a General Election and sooner rather than later and if the private sector wishes to make laws, they should feel free to meet the electorate at the polls.

An Open Letter to the Leader of the Opposition

Bishop Atherley,

Like many Barbadians, I am exceedingly proud of the bold step which this nation is taking as we embark on our journey to republicanism. It is with that patriotic spirit that I watched the proceedings of the Houses of Parliament as they elected the first President of our coming Republic. I had hoped, like many, that the day would be one of joyous celebration, for we have waited so long for this moment, as well as solemn reflection, as we contemplate the journey thus far and where we have yet to go. It was a day designed to be bereft of partisan rancour, a day for unbridled patriotism.

Ultimately however, that was not entirely the case. In particular, one gentleman, your Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, sought to bring the entire dignified proceedings into disrepute, in the process affronting the Parliament, the country and indeed, you, as his Leader. While I would never presume to tell you how to exercise your constitutional duties, it no doubt appears that there is no choice but to either ask the gentleman for his resignation, and if he refuses, to recommend to the Governor General that he be replaced in the Senate. I take no delight in that position, but it is the only way to staunch the bleeding. I rest this contention upon three principal grounds.

Firstly, the gentleman has repeatedly been publicly at variance with you. In our system of government, the parliamentary leader and members of his frontbench must be in lockstep. This is particularly so in the Senate, where those appointed on your recommendation, are entirely dependent upon you for their continued service. While disagreement is par for the course, the matter before us is not a resolution to acquire land. The constitutional ordering of this nation at its highest level is of such paradigmatic importance, that any disagreement on that, means that there is an irredeemable loss of confidence on the part of both parties, for how can you agree on the ‘little things’ if the ‘biggest thing’ is so contentious. A man cannot be led by a person in whom he does not confidence, nor can a man lead another in whom he has no confidence. Little wonder then that in comments to the press, he delivered of himself a fatal remark, that to partake in the process would have made him “look like a fool”. Sir, you participated in the process, in fact you advanced a joint nomination. Sir, you cannot lead a man who thinks you to be a fool.

Further, the reasons advanced for his conduct are disingenuous at best. The gentleman pretends that his issue was with the ballot. The fact is, however, that there never would have been a ballot, unless he objected (note that in Trinidad, there is no constitutional provision to allow objections when there is only one candidate). Did he object in order to have a ballot so that he could again object? Is that the philosophy of the PdP: mindless objection? He alleged to the press that there was no way for him to vote against if he wanted to. We now know that not to be true. The Parliament makes rules to regulate itself, and parliamentarians were instructed that with the ballot paper, they could have indicated approval, disapproval or abstention, with a tick, an x or ‘abstain’. What then is the true reason for his conduct?

Worst of all, the gentleman cast a long shadow over one of this country’s most historic days. A survey of the social media platforms suggests that the national conversation was not dominated by this country decisively reaffirming our confidence in ourselves or by the fact that a young woman from St. Philip would be this country’s first President. No sir, these events were seemingly overshadowed by the gentleman’s conduct. Whether it was his intention or not, his conduct gave rise to this distraction. This, perhaps, is his greatest sin. That on a day that was about Barbados, about all of us, about our past and our future, about hope tempered by pragmatism, we discussed none of these things, we discussed a single man all day. 

I don’t know when, but at some point, we began to think that democracy is an adversarial blood sport of scorched earth tactics. I say, emphatically, that it is not. That if we want a solid democracy as we transition to republican status, we must have politicians who exercise maturity, who can disagree with dignity and honestyand still reach across the aisle in times of national crisis and times of national pride. That is the democracy to which we ought always to aspire.

The gentleman may continue to disagree with everything, as is the right of any in this country, but like the rest of us, he can do so outside of the precincts of Parliament, where will not affront our democracy and our nation.

Bishop Atherley, I know you to be a man with an abiding love for our nation. Every second that this iniquity persists is a stain on this country. The people of Barbados do not deserve this. I ask you, sir, simply, to do the right thing.

Yours Sincerely,

Khaleel Kothdiwala,

A Patriot

A REPUBLICKE OF FOWLES? OR, AN ENDURING VANITY PROJECT?

Submitted by Caleb Pilgrim

Hon Blogmaster, I read somewhere that “all is vanity and vexation of spirit”. Maybe!  But, can this maxim equally apply to the issue of the coming Republicke of Barbadoes?

Candor demands that I confess at the outset that such a prospect does not particularly exercise me one way or another. However, it may well be that, as many bloggers have noted, absent collective discussion via a properly executed national referendum – notwithstanding past public and parliamentary discussion – to foist some feel good, happy talk “republic” on the Barbadian public, may well represent a little bread and circus, if not a mindless, (some might even say despotic) descent into an empty constitutionalism largely irrelevant to Barbados’s national growth and development at this particular historical juncture.

Come November 30, 2021, we may well have succeeded in putting the cart before the horse. But, rather than a gold standard of political re-structuring, are we now being asked to buy a pig in a poke; to walk by faith, and not by reason, on a bridge to nowhere?

Or, in the final analysis, a decision having been made, are we now to scramble to meet a preordained deadline? What makes this exercise more than sheer symbolism, a magical, manipulative, calculated, political exercise, more swagger than substance?

Pray tell us, Blogmaster, why now, if both parties have toyed with this subject for a relatively long time? And why is this not another band-aid solution in search of a problem; “all vanity and vexation of spirit”?

As a rationale, some will have suggested that “advanced”, industrialized countries, e.g the U.S, France, Germany et al, are republics, inferring that their prosperity somehow derives from or correlates with their republican status. I find an alluring, Eden like simplicity to the argument.

I would wager to the contrary that a cursory survey might show that out of the poorest 20 countries in the world, 20 are republics. Out of the 20 most crime ridden countries in the world 20 are republics. Out of the 20 most debt ridden countries, an assortment of republics, monarchical systems, etc, etc.., prevail.

Republican status, therefore, as an instrument of political organization, guarantees little or nothing, per se. it can represent the good, the bad, the ugly and the indifferent in any people. It does not guarantee political, economic, cultural, social progress and development. The label, “republic”, without other assets, properly utilized, can be utterly meaningless.

As of 2017, per Wikipedia, there were 159 countries out of 206 which used the term “republic” in their names. This means that approximately 78% of states operating in the international community represent themselves as “republics” of some sort.

True to form … Comes now, Barbados, 55 years after, in November 2021, late to the party, republic # 160, “a friend of all”, “a satellite of none”, history made by “effluxion of time”.

It is also worth noting that in recent times, some critics concerned at problems confronting Barbados, have labeled Barbados a “failed state”. If true, how will a “failed state” come November 30, 2021, transform itself, or morph into a successful, thriving “republic”? Shouldn’t a failed state, whatever its causes, logically lead to a failed Republic? How does a toad or a toadie suddenly become a prince or princess? And, while we are at it, who really needs another toothless, bootlegged republic? Aren’t there already a dime a dozen?

To be poor often means to be defined as who, or what we are not. In this vein, which  right thinking person would wish to be a President Moise of Haiti, recently assassinated; or his wife shot in the wee hours; or a President Henry currently under investigation? Or, a much maligned and misunderstood President, Idi Amin? Or, a President Mobutu? Or, a President Macias Nguema? Or, a President Bokassa? Or, a President of Afghanistan or of Albania (notwithstanding Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”), or of El Salvador, Guatemala, et al? Who would wish to be another pompous fraud with abundant airs, royally presiding over some squalid, political farce in a failed republic historically beset and bedeviled by countless political and socio-economic problems? And, this is in no way intended to disparage those leaders who seek to do the best they know how.

On the other hand, which reasonable person would wish to be bound to an arcane monarchical system, with empty posers, e.g here, a wayward Prince historically useless, an alleged paedophile or child molester, and a royal ne’er do well; over there, a philandering Princess heavily subsidized by the hapless British taxpayer or taxpayers in the U.K. and Colonies?

In terms of national priorities, then, are there not enough immediate problems in Barbados without hog tying the current system, imperfect as it is, to empty drivel about a Republic? Covid-19 and its increasing havoc? The excessively high cost of living, food in particular? The national Debt? Perennially high unemployment, and underemployment? A widely criticized legal system? Endemic corruption? The 1m trees promised, etc, etc?

An example from comparative politics may also be instructive. The French Republic has had several iterations: The First French Republic, 1792 – 1799; The Second French Republic, 1848 – 1852; The Third French Republic, 1870 – 1940; The Fourth French Republic, 1946 – 1958; The Fifth French Republic, 1958 to the present. How many iterations will a Republic of Barbados require over time to right maladies confronting Barbadian society, past, present and future; from slavery, through colonialism to post-“independence”?

Still from the comparative politics standpoint, another issue, that of an electoral college continues to generate much controversy, e.g in the US ….

Since 2000, two out of five U.S presidential elections have been won by the candidate who lost the popular vote. They have won because of the Electoral College. This kind of consistent rejection of the public’s will breeds frustration and antipathy. Shouldn’t a properly functioning democracy ensure that every vote counts – that every citizen has a voice in their government?
However, altering or eliminating the Electoral College in the U.S requires a
Constitutional Amendment. This is therefore an enormous undertaking, requiring the support of at least two-thirds of the members in the U.S Senate and in the House of Representatives, and the ratification of at least thirty-eight states. At this time, Congress has virtually abandoned any proposal to reform the Electoral College.

In recent years, at the state level, several legislatures have voted to enter into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (an interstate agreement to award all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote). The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would not alter or eliminate the Electoral College. However, it would ensure the winner of the national popular vote becomes the U.S President when enough states to represent at least half of the Electoral College votes enter into the agreement.
In a different vein, to the friend who cautioned me that I was one of those Bajans who would have opposed Barbados’ “Independence” in 1966; I say “not really”; even though I recall that the late Sir Grantley and others opposed independence for Barbados in 1966.

The facts and circumstances were different in Nov 1966. By then, a substantial number of former colonies had gained their titular “independence”, so much so that 1960 had been known as “Africa’s Year” at the U.N, Ghana having been first to attain independence in 1957. Even the much vaunted Singapore (model) had assumed status as a republic in 1965. (If “Big Ghana” had become an independent republic in 1957, doesn’t “Little Ghana” seeking republic status in 2021 not now seem too little too late)? Why therefore preoccupy ourselves with stale political ideas about a republic now? It all now seems a bit passé as a flavor of the month. Remind me when was it that Plato originally wrote his “Republic”; a text known to every first year political science student; circa 375 B.C?

Certainly, it is undisputed that Barbados, as a sovereign, independent state, has the legal right to exercise its sovereignty, and renounce any subservience to the British monarchy.

But, where, what and why is the compelling urgency of now? In sum, what makes it so necessary to declare Barbados a republic at this specific juncture? And, specifically, who benefits? Qui bono? Perhaps, a politically astute Prime Minister who would eradicate and supersede the popular memory of EWB’s legacy as “Father of Independence”. Perhaps, a few merchants benefiting from a spike in temporary sales of republican memorabilia. How also will becoming a republic raise Barbados’s status at the international level?

In the final analysis, this move towards a republic appears a fading replica of a once faddish meteor of little or no enduring value. Like the crumb from Dives’s table, or some cheap mascara, it will do little or nothing, to advance the fortunes of the average Barbadian, even if it might yield another bootleg republic doomed to a pretentious mediocrity in the oblivion of history.

The U.S Embassy (per Wikileaks) once spoke of “Mottleynomics”. Perhaps, better “the economy stupid” as a priority. Or, a serious attempt to rollback “crime and violence”. Who can forget the many political ads lambasting the late P.M. Thompson re his seeming obsession with “crime and violence”?

Honorable Blogmaster, would you do an aging comrade a favor and kindly have the PIP (the People in Power) delineate in precise detail the specific benefits which will inure to Barbados on becoming a republic come November 30, 2021? Nothing fantastical; no fluff; no flummery; no fluckrry; no folderol.

For, as we attempt to rewrite our constitutional history, re-casting Barbados as a republic, as a priority, will neither reconstruct Barbados’s sorry past as a captive, slave, plantation society, nor usher in any type of Utopian future. Better perhaps to focus on promptly resolving persistent, fundamental issues; call a snap election depending on one’s record of substantive achievements and one’s internal polling; and moving the electoral process swiftly forward; rather than drift or limp along like some previous administrations.

Let us not trample the truth. There are few risks, but even fewer objective benefits in declaring Barbados a republic.

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.

VINDICATED

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.

CHECKING CLAIMS

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.

CEREMONIAL PRESIDENT

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.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

A Native Head of State 55 Years Too Late

Barbadians have become a people trapped in a singular mindset. We live in an Information Age where a fusillade of information is constantly coming at us. A prerequisite to ensuring quality decision making demands we have to process large bytes of information in quick time. Whether we like it or not this is the world we have to exist and compete for our daily bread.

In order to give of our best leaders at every level of society must exercise the best approaches to harness the collective intelligence of Barbadians. As an intelligent people we strive to build an equitable society where all Barbadians can carve out a quality life. The prevailing economic and social challenges we have been managing in recent years made acute by the pandemic, demands we see evidence of payback on billions allocated to the education budget post independence.

The decision by the Mia Mottley government to transition to a Republic should command the support of sensible Barbadians. To complete the switch from Queen Elizabeth (or her heirs and successors) to a local daughter of the soil (incumbent GG Dame Sandra Mason will be nominated at the appropriate time) an amendment to the Constitution is required. In an ideal world much needed constitutional reform as articulated in commissions undertaken should be debated and the Barbados Constitution amended. The blogmaster sides with the government the time is now to complete the switch of the head of state and circle back to other reforms all agree must be done. Following the #blm event Lord Nelson was sequestered to the Barbados Museum and it time to delete the Queen of England from the Barbados Constitution.

It is disappointing and surprising to have to listen to educated Black Barbadians espousing the view that moving Nelson statue or the proposed changing of the Queen of England as Barbados head of state will not put money in pockets or food on tables for Barbadians. It is charitable of this blogmaster to describe such a view as myopic and simplistic. 

Volumes have been scribed about the value of symbols co-opted to shape human behaviour – in this case a native President as a figure head and the infinite possibilities how this might awaken aspirational desires in our people, especial the young to shape a brighter future.

We have to problem solve to provide food and shelter today but we must not forget the need to plan for the future. We have to continually search out ways to inspire and our our people to propagate leaders of the future- the visual of a native head of state is one mandatory, giant step in the journey that should have been started decades ago.

Difficult Conversations – Mysterious Logic

We are not perfect. Every person on Earth tends to do evil. In recognition of this fact, we have civil and criminal laws to restrain us from doing wrong that can harm others. Our politicians have the same evil tendencies. They are restrained by our Constitution.

Every Government administration is responsible for learning from the past, to improve the lives of the governed. People can improve their circumstances through relevant education, and the opportunity to benefit from their labour.

We are not improving when our secondary schools only benefit about 20% of our students, and approximately 60% of inmates at our Prison did not finish secondary school. We are not improving when most Barbadians live in a hand-to-mouth poverty, while being among the most heavily taxed persons on Earth.

TOO FAR GONE

Instead of addressing these critical matters, the Government decided that we are an unproductive and psychologically damaged people, with low confidence and low self-esteem. The Government has been deceived into believing that the only reason why we are in this sorry state is because we are not a Republic.

The last BLP administration, on their sacred honour, promised the people of Barbados that they would hold a referendum to get the peoples’ consent on becoming a Republic. The current BLP administration believes that our self-esteem is too far gone to understand a referendum, so they plan to force Republicanism on us – whether we want it or not.

FAMILIAR PATTERN

When we were negotiating our Independence, we were described as hard-working, competent and individually independent people, with a very proud record of self-dependence. We had a professional public service of mostly Barbadians, which was the envy of many advanced countries. We negotiated affordable loans and built infrastructure.

After 55 years of Independence, and the tragic politicization of our public services by our political leaders, they now describe us as a generally insecure, unhealthy and stupid people, who can only improve by: destroying the statue of Nelson, destroying the NIS building, destroying our Constitution, becoming a Republic, and having extreme radical activists receive reparations on our behalf.

CONSTITUTIONAL SAFEGUARDS

Extreme radicals tend to have the same fatal flaw. Namely, their belief that their illusory utopia can only be achieved by destroying what exists. History shows that when extreme radicals successfully influence political power, no amount of horrific collateral damage will dissuade them off their path of destruction, and they do not tolerate dissent.

Our Constitution allows our Parliament to change most of it. But there are critical safeguards to protect Barbados from becoming a failed state. Instead of amending our Constitution to satisfy our radicals, our radicals have demanded that our Constitution be done away with, and another created – in their image alone. Based on their consistent record of successes with the current administration, they are likely to get what they want.

THE LEGACY

The Governor General is in control of our: Defence Force, Police Force, Prison, and Auditor General – because these forces and agencies should never, under any circumstances, be politicised. This is part of the people’s insurance against internal threats. In a Republic, our Governor General is supposed to give up all her executive authority, and become a ceremonial non-executive President.

In a Republic, the Prime Minister will control all the rings. I do not expect Prime Minister Mottley to abuse her new powers – I believe she cares too much. But she would have paved the way for another Prime Minister to use: the Prime Minister’s Defence Force, the Prime Minister’s Police Force, and the Prime Minister’s Prison, to our harm. Further, a politicised Auditor General is a dangerous political weapon.

MISINFORMATION

To facilitate the Republican nightmare that the Forde Commission warned Barbadians about if the Prime Minister’s power is not restrained, our extreme radials are allowed to spread gross misinformation in our traditional media (newspapers, TV, and radio) unchallenged.

They tell us that there was no referendum when we became Independent. The truth is that the referendum was in the form of a general election on 3 November 1966, where the DLP campaigned on Independence. The DLP won and we became Independent later that month.

They assert that the BLP campaigned on making Barbados a Republic in their 2018 Manifesto. The truth is that they did not. Despite the fact that this assertion is easily verifiable as false, our journalists already appear too terrified of our extreme radicals to correct them.

They claim that the issue of Republicanism has been discussed for decades. Therefore, it is time to stop the discussion and just do it. This is mysterious logic. Normally, when a matter has been discussed enough, the next logical step is to measure consensus by allowing a vote on the matter.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Difficult Conversations – Addressing Republic Hesitancy

Supporters of Barbados becoming a Republic are flooding our: televisions, radios, newspapers, and social media, claiming that all right-thinking Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state. They insist that a referendum is not necessary.

These supporters claim that referendums do not work, since the Australians and Grenadians voted to reject republicanism. The truth is that the referenda worked. A referendum measures the will of the people, not the desire of radical activists or the opinions of pollsters.

Perhaps the main hesitancy with Barbados becoming a Republic, is that the Government appears to only accept the advice of our most extreme radical activists. Such radicals only speak of tearing down, destroying, and bankrupting Barbados in pursuing unreachable utopias. They are also allowed to spread misinformation unchallenged.

REPUBLICAN BENEFIT

They tell us that Republicanism will improve our self-esteem, since we will no longer have to swear allegiance to the Queen. Barbadians generally do not swear allegiance to the Queen.

In 1966, we became citizens of an independent Barbados, with our own Barbadian: passports, national anthem, coat of arms, and flag. The colonial era ended, and the colonial office in Barbados was closed.

We do not pledge allegiance to Britain, but to our country Barbados and to our flag. We pledge to uphold and defend their honour, and by our behaviour, do credit to Barbados – not Britain. We have the same independent vote in international associations as Britain. We independently vote, and independently negotiate trade treaties, for Barbados’ benefit – not Britain’s.

LOW SELF ESTEEM

Any low self-esteem among Barbadians is of our own making. It is rooted in a secondary school curriculum that only benefits about 20% of our students, and economic policies that keep most Barbadians living in a hand-to mouth, pay-cheque to pay-cheque, house-poor poverty.

Our extreme radicals want us to excuse our politicians for their failings. Instead, they insist that we must blame the Queen – including for the high incidents of non-communicable diseases. The truth is that all these things are entirely within our political control.

SWEARING ALLEGIANCE TO THE QUEEN

All Barbadians pledge allegiance to Barbados. However, our politicians must swear allegiance to the Queen – to keep them accountable. This is important.

Barbadian voters have come to accept that Barbadian politicians are not accountable to them, and their promises should not be relied upon. The Auditor General’s annual reports support this assertion. However, all Barbadians benefit from the accountability they must demonstrate to the Queen, which is their only restraint.

Promises made to a ceremonial Barbadian head of state will likely be meaningless, because breaking those promises carry no material consequences. They appear to be less inclined to break promises to the Queen’s representative.

EXPOSED

Britain is obligated to support the people of Barbados in our time of greatest need, because we are a former colony. The only premium we pay for this insurance, is to maintain a Governor General, who decides when the threat of harm is sufficient to activate the insurance.

When we become a Republic, we will automatically cancel this insurance, which will likely be a relief for the British taxpaying public. However, we will be exposed. The Barbadian public deserves to know how this exposure will be addressed, and at what cost, before we become a Republic.

The Forde Commission warned Barbadians of the real risk of what it called “Prime Ministerial Dictatorship” in a Republic. Therefore, the public deserves to know how this risk will be addressed, and it must be addressed before the current restraints are removed.

IRRESPONSIBLE ADVISORS

Guided by their reckless end-justifies-the-means philosophy, our radical activists are pushing our Prime Minister down a road of potential international embarrassment.

Before publicly announcing a date for a Republic, our Prime Minister’s advisors should have told her whether the Constitution allows her 30-0 majority to force us into a Republic. Section 49 allows Parliament to alter our Constitution. However, there is a limit.

THE LIMIT

“Subsection (2) shall not apply to a Bill in so far as it alters any of the provisions specified in that subsection for the purpose of giving effect to arrangements for the federation or union of Barbados with any other part of the Commonwealth or for the establishment of some other form of constitutional association between Barbados and any other part of the Commonwealth.” The Constitution of Barbados, Section 49 (3).

If we want to become a Republic, then we should not simply announce it. In responding to news reports that our Government plans to make us a Republic, the Queen responded that any such decision (to cancel the people’s insurance), requires the consent of both the Government and the public of Barbados. The Government has given its consent. The peoples’ consent is measured by a referendum.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

A Heather Cole Column – When Is the Next General Election?

The ruling Administration has reneged on its Covenant of Hope where it promised to include Barbadians in governance. Perhaps one of the most frightening examples to date is Barbados becoming a Republic without a Referendum or consultation with the people. This article will focus on the impact on General Elections.

We have all heard it so many times that it has become second nature to state “elections in Barbados are constitutionally due every five years” and since the last general election was held in 2018, it would be expected that the next General Election will be held in 2023. The latter part of the statement is now in doubt.

The admission that the Constitution will come into existence after the Republic has started was brazen. This form of oppression is subtle. It should be the other way around with the Constitution first and the Republic after so that everyone can read and understand what they are getting into.

That admission has changed everything. One does not know how long a time period that will be. Since a date has not been specified, could it be a month, six months, a year, five years? The Prime Minister’s statement was not precise and therefore it cannot be measured. Hence, regardless of political affiliation, every member of the Barbadian public must acknowledge that this is a massive red flag.

There are several requirements to getting a mortgage and once these are met, the purchaser is provided the mortgage agreement and can get legal advice on the contents before signing. It is a legally binding document by which a person agrees to the principle, interest, payments, the terms and the other conditions. If the bank provided you with a piece of paper with just the title Mortgage on it and informed you that this will be the mortgage and asked you to sign without the principle, interest, payments, the terms and the other conditions being declared in writing, would you sign that piece of paper? Added to this you are told by the bank that the actual mortgage document with the written details will be available shortly after, not even on a specific date, would you sign? No one with all their mental faculties working would sign this blank mortgage document as the bank could write after the fact whatever it wishes on the document.

In the scale of things, the Constitution of Barbados is far more significant than a mortgage. It too is a legally binding document that will not only contain the laws that govern a mortgage but every other law that defines all aspects of life in Barbados. So how can the people of Barbados be asked by the government to agree to a change in the status of the State and a new Constitution with a blank document? What will be written on this document after the fact?

Essentially that is what the government is asking the people to do, to agree to a grand show and tell and later find out about the laws that make the new Constitution. It is a buy now pay later concept that is a trap for unsuspecting buyers.

There is no guarantee that elections will be held in 2023 as this is based off the present Constitution. Without a definitive time period of when the proposed Constitution will be ratified into law no one knows when the next General Elections will be. Will the document be laid in Parliament in a month, a year, or two years from the change of status? Only heaven knows.

In addition, one cannot even assume who will be legally responsible for issuing the writ that declares when elections will be held. One does not know if changes will be made to the Electoral and Boundaries Commission, if the matter of campaign finances will be a free for all, if payments to social media influencers will become part of the law.

The action by government to change the status of the island first and the Constitution after the change in status causes one to question the legality of this process. Due process is that the laws come first. What happens in the interim, emergency law or military law?

The matter of when the next General Elections are to be held is not to be taken lightly. There has been no Referendum, no terms of reference, no draft issued on the type of Republic or the contents of the new Constitution. There are just too many unknowns and people wanting to believe what they have no evidence of.

To the electorate, why is this entire process a secret? You are not at a Fair, the Constitution of Barbados should never be part of a lucky dip where after withdrawing your hand from the box you get the surprise of your life! Now is the time to stand up and fight for your rights.

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Our coming transition to republican status is a proud moment for our country. As has been acknowledged before, it is not a slight to Her Majesty, Her Family or the UK, for which we have tremendous respect, but rather represents the ultimate statement of confidence in ourselves and our boundless capacity. Our commemoration of this moment comes at a particularly challenging time for our nation and world, and is thus a much needed, refreshing respite from our collective adversity.

What does not inspire pride however are the attempts by some to sow confusion by exploiting information deficits. Much of the conversation which has ensued has underpinned the need for the reintroduction of the teaching of civics in our schools, not only to foster a greater sense of pride in nationhood but to furnish our citizens with the content necessary to interpret the structures of our great democracy. 

It was made quite clear by the Government for some time that the form of Republic which we would adopt would be that proposed by the Forde Commission, which is itself similar to the model used in Trinidad and Dominica, two countries which have not been negatively impacted by their decades under a republican form of government. Barbados will thus have a Parliamentary Republic, with executive power remaining unchanged in the hands of the Cabinet, and with a President, performing a similar role to that of our Governor General, in terms of being the symbolic embodiment of the State and an impartial constitutional figure above the fray of partisan politics. 

It was also equally clear that the proposed President would be appointed by an Electoral College, comprising the two Houses of Parliament, similar to the Trinidad model. While some may query why this person will not be directly elected by the populace, it would be ultimately undesirable for occupants of this high constitutional office, intended to be untainted by partisan politics, to have to jockey for popular support in a small society in which such contests would no doubt be mired by partisanship, thus diminishing the impartial stature of the office.

Some wonder too why the election of our Head of State will be left to Parliament. In the first instance, the proposed Electoral College is undoubtedly more democratic than the present, somewhat opaque system where the Governor-General is appointed by Her Majesty on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. In the second instance, we live in a representative democracy, in which political power is devolved by the people to Parliament at intervals, and so we must allow our government to govern and our legislature to legislate, jobs which we empower them to do. 

In respect of the Electoral College, it is regrettable that the leader of a political party would conflate our proposed system with the US Electoral College. Clearly, an electoral college comprising Members of Parliament and Senators, a system which has been highly successful in various countries, is not at all comparable to the ‘winner-take-all’ popular vote-motivated state delegations which comprise the US Electoral College and which has led to anomalies over the years. Those who aspire to high office ought not to exploit information deficits to divide, but rather contribute to efforts to unify our country.

Much has been made of the level of consultation on this proposed move. None can deny that the issue of becoming a republic has been one of the most talked about in our nation over the years. The matter has been investigated by two Commissions, with the Forde Commission comprehensively outlining how we might take this step, and a proposed Constitution was drafted, after extensive and exhaustive consultation by that Commission which spanned town hall meetings, written submissions, private audiences with civil society actors and even visits to the diaspora abroad. There could not be a more comprehensive conception of consultation. 

Clearly though, there will need to be some minor modifications which will no doubt be the subject of consultations over the next few months and beyond. The fact remains that all civil society actors support this move, as well as the overwhelming majority of the populace. To hold a referendum, which has a cost attached, in the midst of this consensus would be an inefficient use of resources at a time when government has more urgent calls on the public purse. 

Finally, combining Independence Day and Republic Day is wise, to avoid the productivity losses caused by a proliferation of bank holidays. Equally, to promote the inclusive celebration of all steps on our journey of nationhood, It may be wise to rename November 30, the Day of Nationhood or Barbados Day.

In sum, the time has long past for continued gymnastics over the decision to become a Republic. Clearly, the time has come, in large measure the overarching institutional frameworks are there ready to be operationalised, and so what remains is our collective conscious determination to grasp with both hands the command of our own destiny, as we seek to continually strengthen our democracy, of which the Republic is but one step. 

Dr. Ronnie Yearwood: Points to Ponder on Going Republic

Let us consider that the Government will continue with its intended plan, it appears of swapping one ceremonial head for another, the Governor General for a President.

Then I think that any new President of a Republic, ceremonial or executive should be directly elected and all Barbadians afforded the opportunity to run for and vote for this office.

The Prime Minister likes to talk about every Barbadian boy or girl aspiring to the high office and knowing it is not representative of the Queen.

Let us make that aspiration real and not just talk.

Dr. Ronnie Yearwood: Lunch time Lecture at Barbados Yacht Club

Read Full Speech (PDF)Dr. Ronnie Yearwood’s lunch time lecture at Barbados Yacht Club

Another Heather Cole Column – An Assault on Democracy

Submitted by Heather Cole

Based on the 2018 Manifesto of the Barbados Labour Party, it was my expectation that a new Barbados would be created that was a place of economic equity and justice for all, a place where poverty could be eradicated and most of all it would become a beacon for democracy.

For me, being guided by a vision of what it would take to create that new Barbados there would have to be participatory democracy, in addition to a movement away from all the colonial institutions, oppressive laws and the present system of education. I foresaw that after the government earned its laurels by resolving the problems that currently plagued this island it could make the move to become a Republic as its next step. I therefore did not anticipate that this Administration would ignore all of its problems and set a wheel in motion to create a Republic. This is the proverbial putting “new wine in old skins.” Mark 2:22 says “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”

The action to become a Republic should have nothing to do with the length of time the island has been loitering on the steps of the Colonial Office or removing the Queen of head of state, if nothing else on the island will change.  It is a rite of passage that is to be earned by any Administration that runs the island as a sign that the people have a high degree of confidence in their government and are satisfied with their stewardship, having resolved the island’s problems.

I am not opposed to Barbados ever becoming a Republic.  At this time I oppose it because:

1. Government has not yet resolved the problems they set out to accomplish in 2018 and other problems have arisen since 2018 that have not been dealt with such has rising prices of food, lack of water, crime, high unemployment, the management of its resources, the age-old problem of the pilferage from the public purse, the awarding of contracts and privileges to the same persons over and over again. One can also add to this the marginalization of the trade union movement in Barbados, high taxation and excessive debt.  Instead of bringing solutions to the island’s problems, the government is in constant crisis mode; not confidence. They should fix the problems of Barbados first.

2. The current administration has not passed the Freedom of Information Act, the Transparency Legislation Act and the Integrity Bill. These should have been part of the prerequisites which the government could have used to gain the public’s confidence to agree to a change in status for the country. Nothing was given so nothing should be received. 

3. Becoming a republic is not a one man show or the sole undertaking of any Administration. The present Administration, the opposition parties and the people must participate in the process as Barbados is a democracy. If the Electorate is eligible to vote an Administration into office for a temporary period of 5 years should this not speak volumes that they must vote on something that will affect Barbadians for generations to come? Is government set on denying the civil rights of all Barbadians?

4. On one hand, government is dusting off and amending or creating the Constitution based on a document written in 2005. Not only has the world has changed leaps and bounds since then but another generation that was not born or at the age of maturity has no knowledge of this document. On the other hand it is refusing the recommendation from the same 2005 document that was written by one of the most conservative lawyers in Barbados. He stated that there must be a referendum first.

4. The Constitution is the embodiment of the norms and values that become laws in any society. The present Constitution has many laws that must be removed and despite what Sir Henry wrote or did not write in 2005, how in good conscience can anyone ask for input into a Constitution without providing the terms of reference or the framework? In addition there is no guarantee that anyone’s input will become part of the final document as there is no transparency.

For me to be supportive of any substantive constitutional changes, it must be by referendum which clearly outlines the type of Republican status that is being proposed as well as the composition of the Republic which must include the below:

  1. The power of recall by which Ministers and an Administration can be removed by the people.
  2. The people’s right to vote for amendments to the Constitution by propositions from the people.
  3. Prosecutorial powers for the Auditor General
  4. An elected President and not a holder of that office for life and no holders of office for life. Term elections of 5 years and a 2 term limit for the presidency or such similar position.
  5. Elected local government officials.

Your word is your bond and we are all cognizant of the fact that the government already broke a promise to the electorate that was in its 2018 manifesto.  This was the promise of having a referendum to make recreational marijuana legal.  The government reneged on its promised and imposed a fine for small amounts, but the herb is still illegal and still comes with prison sentences. A pattern seems to have developed where the government treats its own people who voted them into power like second class citizens. Next it was the moving the goal post in the Severance Pay Act to the detriment of the poor people when they should have been the ones to receive the $330Million of the tax payer money as their severance.

By now one must be aware of the turmoil that is unfolding in Haiti. There is no end in sight in that country which is plagued with poverty, corruption and now violent unrest. The people are sick and tired of all the corruption; they would love to have a referendum. One has been scheduled but based on their present Constitution; there can be no referendum to change the Constitution. Hopefully Barbados will not become another such victim.

It is time to call this what it is, an assault on democracy. The purpose of democracy is to use the ballot to preserve and extend the rights of the people not to forfeit them.  For if the people cannot exercise their civil right that will affect all Barbadians now, how can one expect the document created without their agreement will guarantee that the rights of future Barbadians be preserved?

With violence and crime now pervasive in the land, is this a sign that the lawlessness and disrespect for our laws and people are now abiding in Parliament?  If this is the case, surely it is a sign that the government has lost it way and now is not the time to change to a republic, but the time for the next General Election.