IDA: Constitutional reform format doomed to fail

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Innovative Democratic Alliance (IDA) political leader Dr Denise Tsoiafatt Angus at a constitutional reform meeting at Shaw Park Complex on April 22. –

INNOVATIVE Democratic Alliance (IDA) political leader Dr Denise Tsoiafatt Angus says the format set up by the government for public consultations on constitutional reform is “doomed to fail.”

The government set up a National Advisory Committee on Constitutional Reform in January to steer the process.

The seven-member committee, which began work in March, is chaired by former speaker and attorney Barendra Sinanan.

But during a public consultation on April 22 at the Shaw Park Cultural Complex, Tobago, Tsoiafatt Angus said a structure should have been advanced outlining exactly how the Constitution could be changed, “because the format in which this was done is doomed to fail.”

She added, “We did not hear that it was something that came out of Parliament, where you have both Opposition and those in government.

“And therefore, if you have a committee like this coming out of Parliament, you will then have teeth. You would know that what you are doing is not in vain. You would know that what you are doing is not wait back for it to get back to Parliament for the Opposition to say, ‘You all didn’t consult with us and, therefore, how come you are coming to us now?’”

Tsoiafatt Angus said support for constitutional reform would require a two-thirds majority in the Parliament.

“And therefore, if you are not prepared to consult with the very people you would need to get it done, what are you saying? Are you really serious that this is going anywhere? You can’t tell me that you didn’t know or you didn’t remember or you didn’t understand, because that would send some serious ideas about incompetence.”

She wondered if the initiative is just “another political gimmick because elections are around the corner.”