On Tuesday the Parliament of Saint Lucia met to discuss the Suzie d’Auvergne Constitution Report. The House meeting coincided with the anniversary of the deceased justice’s death in 2014.
In presenting the report, the prime minister had much praise for the commissioners. He also invited his side of the House to be open and frank on the occasion with their contributions.Castries Central MP Richard Frederick was the first to address the report. “Mr. Speaker,” he said, “let me start off by saying that this process today here is extremely important. Because the situations to which the amendments speak are areas in which I believe our democracy is weak.”
According to the MP merely browsing through the recommendations or taking a cursory approach to them would not suffice. “The importance and the ramifications of the implementations of the amendments to which we may agree cannot be underestimated,” Frederick said, pointing out that the report comprised over 350 pages.
A lawyer by profession, Frederick acknowledged that the present 35-year-old Constitution was in dire need of modernization, adding that there were recommendations he would never agree and some that should be accepted across the board. He cited Sections 8 and 9, which deal with the protection of the Queen’s
“Government after government have expressed the intention to protect the Queen’s Chain,” he said, “yet time and time again we yield to pressures by foreign investors. The patrimony of this country ought not be sold. And in instances where private property is acquired, provisions are made (in the report) for a prompt and full settlement.” That he was in full agreement with.
The question of same-sex marriage was, for the opposition Castries Central MP, something else. “For those who believe we should wholesalely embrace the recent pronouncements by the United States Supreme Court in relation to same-sex marriage, our commissioners were of a different view.
“Recommendation 31 speaks of marriage between a man and a woman. In the event a vote is being taken on this, and your humble servant is absent, might I invite you to take my vote now? I vote yes, that marriage should be between a man and a woman. We are not prepared to bend over backward to facilitate the decisions of First World countries. I am quite happy that even before the announcement was made by the Supreme Court our commissioners, in their wisdom, had seen it fitting to make that recommendation.”
Frederick, who confessed he had not gone through all of the recommendations in the report, gave much time to recommendations 50-55
and 59-64, which he said spoke to who should or should not be parliamentarians. He expressed difficulty accepting the recommendation that an elected parliamentarian who is made a minister would have to resign as a parliamentary representative. Several members on Tuesday spent much time on that recommendation, which would directly impact them. The discussion continued on Thursday with the senators and will resume at another House sitting on Tuesday.