Members on the opposition bench in parliament have expressed the need to have public exchange on the Attorney General’s Reference Constitutional Questions Bill 2018.
In parliament last Thursday, Senator Kay Bacchus-Baptiste expressed concern about the government’s decision to bring such a bill to the parliament at this time.
Member of Parliament for Central Kingstown St. Clair Leacock said that the public had expressed “unease” over the bill which they claim would change elements of the constitution without a referendum. Leacock said the components of the bill need public input including that of the bar association.
Bacchus-Baptiste on the other hand also noted that she received the documentation on the bill a mere two days before it was brought to parliament which was not enough time for her to go through and make a solid contribution on its debate.
Bacchus-Baptiste said there was no need to rush the bill, since such changes could affect the dynamics of a referendum.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, however, denied there being any hidden agenda with the Attorney General Reference Constitutional Bill 2018.
PM Gonsalves who earlier pushed for all three readings at Thursday’s sitting, said that the bill is not aimed to “oust” or get rid of anyone.
He also noted that the bill has nothing to do with making changes to the constitution however it aids in the “interpretation of the constitution”, as similar aspects in neighbouring St. Lucia.
The Prime Minister accused Senator Baptiste of “scaremongering” and further explained that the bill ensures that the attorney general, can have the court of appeal determine if a provision is constitutional or not.