Regional Pollster Peter Wickham wants the Dominica government to use its parliamentary strength and the large chunk of political support it obtained from the electorate in the 2009 general election to change “outdated” laws, and work towards greater transparency.
Wickham, the featured speaker at the delegates conference of the governing Dominica Labour Party, said the Party which received 61 per cent of the popular vote in the last election, should be able to deal with governance issues without having to look over its shoulder.
He made reference to the troublesome dual citizenship issue that recently landed Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and his education minister Peter St Jean in court (the two won their case but the matter is being appealed at the level of the OECS Supreme Court).
“I worry about the fact that in most instances we have not renewed our fundamental laws once or twice at best, if at all,” the pollster said. “I worry that we are afraid to delete from our constitutions a provision that would allow Dominicans holding dual citizenship to hold office,” Wickham, who has weighed in on that matter before and been criticised for it, described as a controversial issue.
“I’m not attempting to throw stones at your constitution because my constitution says the same thing too,” he said, explaining however that the situation in Bridgetown had not, like in Dominica’s case, become a political football. “Because we have had several members of parliament and a prime minister that held dual citizenship and it’s not an issue for anyone,” he explained.
According to Wickham, the reality is that “these types of laws don’t have any place in a modern constitution in the Caribbean, and a constitution that appreciates the reality of life where there are several people who find themselves in these situations through no fault of their own, or alternatively through fault of their own but with very good reasons”.
“And I think this is the reality that we in the Caribbean have to begin to deal with and look at making changes in this way,” the Barbados-based pollster advised.
Wickham replaced former Barbadian prime minister Owen Arthur as featured speaker at Sunday’s DLP Delegates conference.
Prime Minister Skerrit said there that Arthur, the current opposition leader in Bridgetown, cancelled at the last minute for personal reasons, but was now expected in Dominica next month to address another function.