Only Doug and Ralph and Ruth can fit, that’s why
#TurksandCaicos – February 19, 2018 – Members of Parliament are honourable because they have the outstanding privilege of representing a district or constituency of people in the House of Representatives. It is something that, in the Turks and Caicos Islands, is decided about every four years but is a democratic tradition of practicality more than anything else; at least that is how I understand it.
Since there are some 1,159 (2017) voters in Cheshire Hall and thousands more people who are actually resident in what is the largest voting constituency in these islands; it is practical for the electorate to send one man or woman to take up the seat in parliament to represent their views in the House of Assembly.
One thousand, one hundred and fifty-nine people simply cannot fit inside the halls of parliament and so we send one to be the representative.
It is how this and other democracies work, pretty much.
Although North and Middle Caicos are one of the smallest voting districts in the Turks and Caicos with 532 (2017) registered voters, still, all of those men and women – if they could even get to Grand Turk for a House of Assembly meeting – would not be able to squeeze into the one seat the TCI legislature provides to reflect that constituency.
So yes, it is physically impossible for everyone to be represented individually in a parliament anywhere in the world. It can also be argued that it is likely too expensive, cannot be accommodated by air, sea or ground transportation operators and an unreliable expectation when you are trying to get country business done, as some of us just won’t turn up anyway.
The reality is that 7,970 (2017) voters cannot all fit onto the plane or boat or in taxis and travel to the House of Assembly each time a convening takes place. The reality also is that if we all managed to get to Grand Turk, only 30 of us could fit in the seating on ‘the Floor’ where debate on bills and the like takes place and even the guest galley would be maxed out at around 120 people.
The same is true of South Caicos, which the 2017 Voter Register reveals there are 358 on the elector’s list.
So, Doug and Ralph and Ruth – for example – are expected to show up every time there is a meeting at the House of Assembly, unless there is a good reason for an absence. Doug and Ralph and Ruth – again for example – are also expected to take their role seriously and humbly carry the responsibility or else voters could decide to find someone else to do the job in four years. And Doug and Ralph and Ruth – as again an example – ought to know what their constituents think and feel and want on any given policy proposal or issue and represent that when and as opportunities present themselves.
In case you did not know it, the Member of Parliament or District Representative has allegiance first to the voter because that is who hired him or her; not the political party.
Also interesting to note about the role of a Member of Parliament is that in the House of Assembly, these honourable people are never, ever, ever supposed to be referred to by their own names. The reason is quite profound and I think, ingenious.
Doug and Ralph and Ruth – for instance – are important as human beings, undoubtedly; however who they are individually is irrelevant in a House of Assembly. These three individuals and the other 20 people who make up the Turks and Caicos Parliament are there not because of who they are individually, but because of who or what they represent.
Doug is called the Member for Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hill – that is his name in the House.
Ralph is called the Minister of Tourism and the Member of Parliament for North and Middle Caicos – that is his name in the House.
Ruth is called the Member for South Caicos because that is her name in the House.
They are the people, because we cannot all fit.
The representatives, even those with the huge job of being All Island Members are there because they represent PEOPLE. It is the people who entrusted them with the popular vote and put them there. It is the people who will be impacted by the policies being debated. It is the people who must be represented because they have given these former candidates, now elected representatives the honour to do so.
The MP is proxy for the Voters.
I reiterate, because, we cannot all fit – Doug and Ralph and Ruth and others are sent you to honour our wishes by vocalising them as we build this nation.
In understanding that the House of Assembly is therefore the forum for all citizens’ perspectives to show up or be spoken out loud on any matter, the looming question always is – are we absent or are we present?
Maybe it is time to begin talking more to Doug or Ralph or Ruth – for example, to make sure it is your constituency and not them showing up when the House is in session.
Kamala Harris to meet with Caribbean leaders in The Bahamas
#USA, June 5, 2023 – Kamala Harris, United States Vice President will journey to Nassau Bahamas in June for a top level meeting with Caribbean leaders, marking the first time she will visit the region since occupying office in 2021.
According to the White House in a statement, the meeting will bring attention to a range of regional issues. Harris and the Caribbean leaders will continue talks on the shared efforts to address the climate crisis, such as promoting climate resilience and adaptation in the region and increasing energy security through clean energy.
Additionally, the statement informed that Harris’ trip “delivers on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advance cooperation with the Caribbean in pursuit of shared prosperity and security, and in recognition of the common bonds and interests between our nations.”
The June 8th meeting builds on and strengthens the U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030, which was launched by the Vice President and Caribbean leaders in Los Angeles at the Summit of the Americas as further mentioned by White House Statement.
CARPHA Observes World No Tobacco Day
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, June 5, 2023 – Tobacco use remains a major public health concern in the Caribbean Region. There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. The use of tobacco products in any form harms nearly every organ of the body, irrespective of whether it is smoked, smokeless, or electronic. Of all the forms of tobacco use, most common in the Caribbean region is cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. Using other tobacco products such as cigars or pipes also increases the risk for this disease.
Second-hand smoke exposure causes stroke, lung cancer, and coronary heart disease in adults; and acute respiratory infections and severe asthma in children. It is a preventable risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), which are the leading cause of death, disease and disability among Caribbean people.
This year, World No Tobacco Day focuses on Grow Food, Not Tobacco. This campaign advocates for ending tobacco cultivation and switching to more sustainable crops that improve food security and nutrition. The campaign observed annually on 31 May, also informs the public on the dangers of direct use, and exposure to tobacco.
In the Caribbean Region, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death and disability – 76.8% of the total deaths (non-Latin Caribbean, excluding Haiti) were due to NCDs in 2016. Cardiovascular diseases 30.8% and cancer 17.2% are the leading causes of death due to NCD, both linked to tobacco use. Many of these persons die in the prime of their lives before the age of 70 years old. The prevalence of smokers for overall tobacco products ranged from 57.2% prevalence (95%CI 48.4 to 65.4%) to 16.2% (95%CI 11.2 to 23.0%). According to the Report on Tobacco Control in the Region of the Americas (2018) Caribbean countries have the highest levels of tobacco experimentation before the age of 10.
Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) “Smokeless does not mean harmless. Nicotine in e-cigarettes is a highly addictive drug and can damage children’s developing brains. Children and adolescents who use e-cigarettes at least double their chance of smoking cigarettes later in life. Preventing tobacco product use among youth is therefore critical. It is important that we educate children and adolescents about the harms of nicotine and tobacco product use. We must work to prevent future generations from seeing such products as “normal”.”
In 2008, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) endorsed the recommendation to ban smoking in public spaces. Later, in 2012, CARICOM regulated a standard for labelling retail packages of tobacco products with health warnings. Caribbean civil society organisations (CSOs), working in collaboration with local governments and international partners, have led the charge in fighting for significant gains in tobacco control in the Caribbean region.
Dr Heather Armstrong, Head, Chronic Disease and Injury: “At CARPHA, we believe that reducing the harm caused by tobacco use requires a collective approach, where government, civil society, and the individual play a critical role. CARPHA promotes the prevention of tobacco use in all forms and commitment to the WHO FCTC. The focus on tobacco control deals with the youth of the Region. Children and adolescents who use e-cigarettes at least double their chance of smoking cigarettes later in life.”
The Chronic Diseases and Injury Department of CARPHA provides leadership, strategic direction, coordinates and implements technical cooperation activities directed towards the prevention and control of NCDs in CARPHA Member States. CARPHA’s message for prevention of tobacco product use has spread across its Member States.
In 2018, CARPHA in partnership with the University of the West Indies (UWI), Global Health Diplomacy Program at the University of Toronto, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the Healthy Caribbean Coalition evaluated the Port of Spain Declaration to learn which mandates helped to prevent and control NCDs. Taxation, smoke-free public places mandate, and mandatory labelling of tobacco products are some of the leading policies making the biggest impact on reduction of tobacco use in the Caribbean regions.
CARPHA urges Member States to work together to prevent and reduce the use of all forms of tobacco products, and scale-up efforts to implement their commitments under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). By doing so, the negative impact of smoking and its consequences on the health of our people, especially the younger generation, and the tremendous burden on the economies of the countries in our Region, will greatly be reduced.
Hunger rates rise in Latin America and the Caribbean
June 5, 2023 – It’s an unfortunate reality for Latin America and the Caribbean as the number of people suffering from hunger surged by 30 percent; 56 million people now facing hunger, a large increase from 43 million in 2019.
It was revealed by Mario Lubetkin, Deputy Director General and Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), where he further informed that the war in Ukraine, COVID-19, and the ongoing climate crisis are to blame for the surge.
Regarding the climate crisis, he emphasized that climate related challenges are on the rise as the region experiences combinations of droughts and floods; and to combat this, he expressed that proactive measures should be put in place to prepare farmers for potential severe impacts.
To help mitigate the surge in hunger rate, he put forth a three fold approach.
The first is the importance of effectively managing the current situation by whatever means necessary; for the second, he fingered the need for the creation of sufficient funds to mitigate the impact on farmers, for the third, he highlighted the need for collaboration among Governments, public sectors, and private sectors in order to mollify the burden of rising prices on consumers.
These highlighted efforts are in line with the aspirations and duties of the FAO which is devoted to supporting family farming, which makes up 80 percent of the workforce in the Agriculture sector.
Additionally, Lubetkin spoke of FAO’s commitment to quality products and brought attention to the United Nations Decade of Family Farming, which is geared towards eradicating hunger, ensuring food security, and promoting sustainable development in rural areas.
The organization also aims to enhance food security, a needed element in the regions, through innovation and digitization processes for example “1,000 digital villages,” one of their projects aids countries in using digital tools in agri-food systems and rural territories.
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