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Christie Snubs Constitutional Commission

The Constitution of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas has not been amended since it came into effect four decades ago. There was an attempt to revise the supreme law in 2002, but it was defeated at the referendum stage.

Prime Minister Perry Christie has created another commission to consider reforming the constitution this term, just as he did when he was last in office. Since the commission’s appointment last year it has heard from a cross section of society, including politicians, religious leaders and social activists.

On Sunday, the prime minister said in a statement he canceled plans to speak before the commission. He was due to appear after delaying several other scheduled appearances. In his statement, Christie said his appearance was not necessary because he felt Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson ably presented the views of the government when she met with the commission earlier this month.

Recently, Christie told reporters he did not want to sway the commission or give the appearance that he was influencing it.

“They are due to report at the end of this month,” he said, “and they are writing their report and would have been writing it as I spoke. I don’t want any public utterance by me to influence or be seen to influence the Constitutional Commission, which would have happened.”

The commission’s report is expected to provide the basis for constitutional amendments. That report is due in a week.

Christie should have appeared before the commission. Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis made this point yesterday, emphasizing that the commission and the country want to hear from the prime minister on such major issues. The views of the attorney general are not the views of Christie. Maynard-Gibson’s views should not even be considered the views of the government. They are merely her considered opinions.

Amending a constitution is a moral, intellectual and political act. The country would have liked to know what are the major issues as perceived by the longest-serving member of the legislature (Christie) and the functional head of the executive (again, Christie). After all these years of public service, Christie must have some thoughts worth sharing on needed reform of the supreme law of The Bahamas.

By not showing up at the commission after being scheduled to and then canceling, the prime minister appears disorganized and dismissive of the important work it is doing.

The prime minister should not fear taking a position on contentious issues of importance in the public sphere. He has his right to his positions just like the rest of us. Whether they come forward or not as recommendations is up to the members of the commission.

If there was time, we would have liked to see Christie revise his decision not to appear. But it seems the prime minister will just miss the moment.

– Editorial from The Nassau Guardian

Posted in Opinions

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