#Providenciales, November 28, 2018 – Turks and Caicos – I am surprised at the two most recent Releases from the Leader of the Opposition who has been fast asleep at the wheel of governance since assuming that Office in 2016 only waking up every now and then to use his few choice words.
I note with amusement the LOO’s remarks as it relates to the Constitution and offer the following:
On the matter of the Constitution:
- The LOO removed himself totally from the process and appointed the Hon AK Missick to act on his behalf. He must be the first Leader of the Opposition to willfully remove himself from a process as important as the Constitution or perhaps it was his intention all along to frustrate the process. He stated that it was verbally communicated to me that his Party wished to wait on a new leader. This is not so, and the contents of an email received on September 6th from Hon AK Missick stated that her Party would not be continuing constitutional talks with us but would wish to discuss “stronger recommendations as to self determination” as a first reason and then the point of selecting a new Executive who would be tasked with determining whether the PNP continue to engage on the Constitution.
As you’ll agree the proposed changes from both parties are not that substantial to the form of the constitution that would advance our Country and people. We believe stronger recommendations as to self-determination should also be discussed.
Lastly, we are heading into a Party Convention and of the view that as we elect new National Executive members that they be allowed to make a determination on our Part’s direction as it relates to Constitutional engagement”. (Hon Akierra Missick)
This was in response to my email of September 2nd, 2018 in which I outlined the clear decisions to be made: Updated Submissions; Refresher for the people on the 2015 Proposals and Trip To The UK.
- The Leader of the Opposition “LOO” has stated that the UK will only deal with both a Government and Opposition. This is not entirely accurate as the last changes to the Constitution proved otherwise. In 2005, the UK dealt with the Government alone and precedent was set when former Premier Michael Misick negotiated the final changes to the 2006 Constitution with Lord Triesman of HMG. I would hasten to say though that like now, there was a Proposal from a bi partisan Constitutional Committee following public consultations. There were clear steps with three rounds of talks which started in TCI. The third round was in October 2005 with a Michael Misick led Government only delegation for two days of Meetings in the UK. The PDM Opposition were not involved and were granted a 15 minute Meeting to discuss. The UK Minister at the time said there was no need to discuss further as there would have been no change. I note the LOO’s firm stance that the UK has made it clear that they will not and I wish to advise the people of the country that this was not communicated to me in the past or currently and if this is in fact their position, then they would have only communicated this to one party, the Opposition.
- I reiterate again for the public: The Government and the Opposition met in April of this year for a second meeting having had an introductory one in GT and I reported this to the country on several occasions. Both reviewed the submissions of the 2015 Report and agreed additions for further discussions with both Parties. We agreed that we would travel to London together and would engage the people of the Islands in a refresher of the submissions which I did a few weeks ago and which I will do again on Wednesday, November 30th, 2018.
- What the LOO did not remind the people of was the fact that the Proposals as submitted by Premier Rufus Ewing were all rejected. One may recall the statement made by Speaker Robert Hall when the rejection letter was received. Submissions were made under the Rufus Ewing led Administration in 2015 and within a few weeks, the Proposals were all rejected by Her Majesty’s Government. The LOO of the Opposition was correct in that it was mid October when there was a final exchange six weeks or so before Elections were constitutionally due. It was then that the former Premier approached myself as LOO and my inquiry was simply what are the steps to take and to this date, I have not had a response from him or Governor Peter Beckingham on the path forward and this was necessary to inform the Official Opposition who agreed that we would participate. I wish to remind the LOO that when the Constitutional Review was carried out in 2002 and completed in 2006, we knew the process: what the UK would accept etc, the number of rounds of talks with the UK and what else was entailed. In their exercise I was asked to follow blindly to the UK without a known plan.
My efforts have never left out the genesis of these Proposals as the LOO must recognized that not all persons suffer memory loss. Our efforts have been solely to revive the failed submissions of the Former Government whose Proposals we supported on behalf of the people whose voice formed the basis. Each Meeting when presented the opportunity, I spoke with the UK Ministers concerning this and the UK through the Governor invited the Proposals. If they are not minded to meet with the Government alone, they have not stated so and the withdrawal of the PNP at this stage from the Talks was clearly communicated by me to the UK. The UK has not said to me what the LOO has said to the people of this country and we remain surprised at the stance taken by the present Official Opposition to abandon talks on proposals that they submitted and supported as the Government based on the people’s views.
What is so disingenuous of the LOO is that though he has never been at the forefront of Constitutional changes or involved, he knows that the Meeting is not the end of discussions with TCIG but continued dialogue on proposals rejected with more steps to follow.
I have never played politics with the Constitution and will not begin to now as this is a national matter. I will not ask the Official Opposition to join me without a road map and they would be fool hearty to do so as former Premier Rufus Ewing attempted to do. Under both former Leaders Hon Derek Taylor and Hon Michael Misick, both PDM and PNP’s Administration, I accepted to serve. Under former Premier Hon Rufus Ewing, I again accepted to serve and in fact second his Motion in the House of Assembly. Constitutional Talks take time and we can ill afford to waste time.
We reject the foolish notion that the country should wait for the PNP to get their act together and to find a Leader before we can proceed on an invitation from the UK to talk. All OTs are invited to these Talks and the Constitution again appears on the Agenda while in London. I will proceed to discuss the proposals and the way forward on behalf of the people of this country.
The LOO and the PNP know full well that the path to what was communicated by Hon AK Missick on their behalf requires a referendum or General Election and that their petty actions now will only serve to frustrate the process. A change in Leader or Executive Committee whichever reason is correct has no bearing on the wishes of the people already communicated on their behalf. The UK does not deal with Political Parties but with elected Officials in Governments and Oppositions. The change in leadership in a Party can not affect a People’s wish. Constitutional Talks are led by a Government with the encouragement of a bi partisan approach throughout. Like in 2002, 2006 and 2015, we enjoyed that in consulting with our people. In 2006, the Government alone were entertained and in the final talks. We expect that there will be further dialogue as in time past but are equally confident as the elected Government of the day, precedent will allow us to proceed on our people’s behalf. We hope as we do that good sense will prevail and that the PNP Opposition will join the Talks whether they are able to find a new Leader or not.
Hon Sharlene L Cartwright Robinson
Premier & Minister of Finance
The Turks and Caicos Islands