On this week’s TALK with Rick Wayne (DBS), the host sought to focus on some of the House contributions two days earlier. Zoning in on prime minister Kenny Anthony, Wayne said there was something the prime minister had said on Tuesday afternoon that had caught his ear and reminded him of Thomas Jefferson. “What the prime minister said was this,” the TV host recalled, ‘We have to be careful how we nourish the tree of democracy.’ Thomas Jefferson, for his part had said: ‘The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.’ ”He went on: “I am personally less disturbed by what the revered US president said than by what our omnipotent prime minister told us. For instance when the prime minister says we have to be careful how we nourish the tree of democracy, who is we? Is he just using the royal we, or is he talking only about himself? Because I don’t know how it is possible for us to nourish the tree of democracy. Only the prime minister can do that. He holds all the cards, with his limitless power—given and assumed.”
Returning to the deputy prime minister’s contribution to last week’s discussion of the Suzie d’Auvergne Commission’s proposals for constitutional reform, Wayne said he agreed with Phillip J Pierre when the Castries East MP and deputy prime minister said the Constitution of Saint Lucia has served us well. He added that the people already had most of the rights touched on during the House discussions: the right to work, freedom of expression, freedom of association and so on.
“So what precisely was the purpose of the Suzie d’Auvergne assignment?” Wayne asked. “I don’t know and none of the politicians mentioned it. Perhaps they, too, don’t know.” As for the prime minister, Wayne said his address on Tuesday had been very carefully crafted. It was “interesting but very careful about what it left out regarding the history of our Constitution.” Moreover, there was not a word, not a word, not a word from the prime minister and his colleagues on both sides of the House about what the Constitution needed.”
“If I were on that floor,” Wayne went on, “my first question would be: Why are we meddling with the Constitution? If it ain’t broke, why fix it? What exactly is wrong with the Constitution? And I would answer that the one shortcoming is that the prime minister has too much power, too much authority.”
Wayne reminded viewers that Pierre had disagreed with what he had seen as an effort by the commission to curtail some of the prime minister’s power. “Pierre actually suggested the prime minister should be further empowered,” Wayne said. “He equated the prime minister with a company’s CEO ‘who has to have power over his employees.’ What Pierre failed to understand is that a CEO and a PM are not nearly the same. The CEO of a private company has a particular relationship with his employees. But the prime minister is a servant of the people. So are his ministers. So is Pierre. So are all who work in the public services. They are all servants of, and accountable to, the people at all times.”
The TV host also observed that both the prime minister and his deputy had underscored with expressed regret what they believed was the commission’s determination to make the prime minister more accountable to the people.
He went on: “Kenny Anthony admitted he had noted the commission’s obsession with the authority of the prime minister and by all he said, he believed the commission had not aptly explained things to the people they interviewed. But why such an assumption? It is obvious that local prime ministers effectively have more power than Obama and Cameron combined. Local prime ministers account to no one. Not even to their Cabinet or to the governor general. Alleged checks and balances don’t apply to them. A prime minister in Saint Lucia can do whatever he pleases, whenever he pleases. He has the authority given to him by the Constitution and he has the authority he takes upon himself with impunity. Our constitution does not provide for sanctions for government officials who are a law unto themselves. That is why Rochamel and Grynberg and the other scandals occurred with no one having to answer related questions. But during the most recent House sessions the people heard not a word, not a word, not a word about that!”