Recall them, don't impeachThursday, May 13, 2021
Here we go again, round and round the mulberry bush. Our political elites have become enamoured with the word “impeach”, so now Opposition Leader Mark Golding wants to change the constitution so that politicians can permanently get rid of other politicians who are deemed guilty of behaviour classified as egregious.
They love that word, too, with nary a nod to the voters who should have that right in a democracy. They appear to have learned nothing from the farcical impeachment hearings against former US President Donald Trump which descended into bitter partisanship and out of which only an emboldened, triumphant occupant of the White House emerged.
Those hearings were based on far clearer language than that Golding proposes, yet a mechanism designed at the birth of the US to remove presidents for “high crimes and misdemeanours” was twisted in a bout of partisan vitriol to be used to remove a president which the voters had already sent packing. Yet, here we have lawyers, always the first to complain about the vagueness of language in the law, proposing even more vague terminology, presumably so they can argue all night about it.
It wasn't that long ago that Andrew Wheatley was removed from Cabinet yet in the 2020 election the voters saw it fit to return him to office. That's their right!
One supposes that our copycat elites will continue to look no further than US for the balm to heal our collective national wounds. But at least copy something that works. Give the voters in a constituency the right to recall or not recall their elected politicians before their term expires. If voters can sign up a specified minimum number in favour of recall that should trigger a new election in the constituency. Then all the voters in the constituency will have the right to decide the politician's fate, not 62 members of Gordon House.
This overcomes the hurdle of language vagueness as the voters don't have to specify a reason they want a politician recalled. Of Caricom countries, Belize already has the right to recall, so it's not a novel proposition in Commonwealth countries which adopted the Westminster model.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness has done all he legally can and should do with regard to George Wright. He has removed him from the Government caucus.
The Speaker of the House has done all she can or should do in routinely granting a leave of absence, and she ought not to be taken to task for not giving her reasons in the circumstances.
Correction: Let me take back that one about the prime minister. He could have done one thing more. Had he wanted to set an example of comradeship, given the vast amount of vacant bushland on the Opposition benches behind Golding, and in keeping with Jamaica's time-honoured tradition for “squatting” and “capture land”, he could have invited Golding to allow Wright to 'kotch' over there for a while. Should Golding's somewhat underwhelming performance since taking over the party of O T Fairclough, Norman Manley, Michael Manley, P J Patterson, and Portia Simpson Miller continue, and the offending party learns to 'keep the peace and be of good behaviour', the law of adverse possession might well kick in. That way the prime minister could have adroitly got rid of an unwanted guest at his party without calling security and fostered genuine bipartisanship, or facilitate this impeachment governance gimmick. But, then, he would have had to be in a really, really good mood.
Errol W.A. Townshend
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