As general elections draw nearer with each passing day passions are inflamed, issues rise to the fore which have serious consequences for our Country.
One of the talking points is which party will lead Jamaica to first world status.
Sadly for many in both parties they believe that what constitutes First-world-status is physical infrastructure.
First world status starts with establishing laws, improving the delivery of justice to the population ,the delivery of education and health care are important as well. Invariably, putting these principles in place creates the components which puts in place the physical long term structures we crave.
Each challenge Jamaica faces is an opportunity for the island to be better. Of course this depends on whether the leaders have the vision necessary to create a better country from these challenges.
It is important that if Jamaica is to ever become better it must transfer power from politicians back to the people.
Jamaica must become a nation of laws , that is the way democracies thrive. The Island will thrive when everyone has a stake in the country, when every Jamaican feel equal in the sight of the law.
Being equal is not about being told you are all equal , its about that equality being enshrined in law, and enforced with strictest fidelity by the courts.
For years this writer has called for fixed election dates in this very medium. It wasn’t until this current cycle came around that I learned that the opposition Jamaica Labor Party support that position, so too does the National Democratic Movement..
The Labor party was in power for four years yet they did not bring this to the parliament for a vote.
Now that Portia exercised her power by manipulating the process to favor herself and her party the Labor Party is upset .
Why did they not bring it to a vote if they believed in the fidelity of the process?
The other pressing issue is that little problem of the PNP’s refusal to debate the Leader of the Opposition by attaching conditions for the Prime minister’s participation.
Of course the Prime Minister’s conditions are cowardly and gutless but these could all be avoided if there were strict guidelines in law which makes it mandatory in the interest of the people that the leaders must participate in debates. In fact it should not be just one debate.
Some will say well the present laws are clear about the time Parliament is dissolved , Nomination day and election day. On that basis they will argue there may not be enough time to have a series of debates.
To those concerns I say , the laws were created to suit that time in our history , this is now.
We change what needs changing to fit our present and future circumstance.
One debate is not enough to deal with the raft of issues germane to the well-being of the people, there should be several debates mandated in law.
Candidates seeking to become members of parliament should also be mandated by law to debate their opponents in a town-hall type setting so the people can participate and make informed decisions.
There are howls of condemnation coming from several quarters of civil society regarding the intransigence of the ruling PNP in not debating the Opposition leader.
What I have not heard is a single individual or entity calling for Legislation which would eliminate these problems.
In the Interest of our Country this writer and this medium will once again call for the following…..
(1) FIXED ELECTION DATES.
(2) MANDATORY DEBATES BETWEEN THE TWO LEADERS, AS WELL AS DEBATES BETWEEN THE CANDIDATES CONTESTING EACH CONSTITUENCY.
If these important issues are not legislated we will be right back here having the very same conversations the next election cycle.
This is an opportunity for the members of the House,both Government and Opposition to grow up, stop banging on desks and hurling insults at each other and do something for the country.
These two issues should be front and center when the next Parliament is convened . This writer will be watching, regardless of the outcome of the elections.