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Monday, February 16, 2015


I would not hesitate to grade the Electoral Boundaries report highly in some aspects. Given previous precedents, we may even be tempted to classify it as a work of excellence relative to its substance, “methodology”, transparency, quality and clarity. If we extricate the “naked politicking”, then we might even want to claim that there seems hitherto to be a measure of national consensus that the commission did an excellent job.

The seemingly only credible “frontal attack” was initially piloted by Hon Richard Frederick during the House debate; however, the brunt and focus of that attack were directed at issues related to implementation logistics and not the “substance” of the report.

Richard’s argument was essentially two-dimensional: the first dimension focused on constitutional issues; and the second was related to cost implications.  

Firstly, he contended that while, according to the constitution, it was a constitutional requirement to commission the review of constituency boundaries, it was not a necessarily a constitutional requirement to implement the recommendations of the Commission.

The Prime Minister in his rebuttal countered with the argument that if we didn’t review the boundaries, then we were setting ourselves for potential "judicial action" by anyone who chose to pursue it.

Apparently, there seemed to be a “measure of asymmetry” between the positions of the two legal minds. Richard was drawing a line of demarcation between the constitutional requirement of (a) the "review" and (b) the "implementation" of its findings. Kenny on the hand seemed to have conflated (a) and (b) and therefore spoke of one in the context of the other, suggesting that the two were an inseparable whole. Perhaps, there may well be legal nuances which may require further elucidation for the laymen like you and me. 

Richard’s second argument was the issue of affordability. Kenny countered that it was a constitutional requirement and that the implementation cost ($300,000) approached zero when compared to the humongous ($500,000,000) public service wage bill.

Indeed, Richard’s arguments against the bill were the only ones that had merit and logic; and might even have provided dissenters and detractors with a framework for generating ideas for mounting a propaganda campaign, not a legal challenge, against the bill.

The paradox however is: Richard’s frontal arguments in my view were still largely extraneous and tangential to the heuristic content of the report and hence they did not constitute a “refutation”. Perhaps, that was exactly what he sought out to do.

Apart from the characteristically incoherent and idiosyncratic diatribe of Hon Guy Joseph which in my view had absolutely no heuristic relevance to the debate, hardly any parliamentarian had anything “substantially negative” to say about the bill. Similarly, criticisms or challenges to the bill outside of the House fell outside of the realm of the genuine “heuristic analysis”, save for the contribution of Ambassador Earl Huntley which only added extra corroborative content to debate.

The logical question therefore is: Why is the substance of the report on constituency’s boundaries “irrefutable” or “unrefuted” so far?

One answer is perhaps, given its heavy dose of facts and figures, it may have been too conceptually complex or intellectually challenging to assimilate! It could also be that none of the critics might have taken time to study it.

In that regard, our press/media stand for identification. They have not provided a structured review of it; but instead focused on the peripheral “roro”  and "out-goes-in" treatment which has plagued the debate.  Indeed, up to now, I have not heard or read a conventional critique on the substance of the report. What has made the headlines has been the extraneous foolishness uttered by largely political charlatans. Except for RSL's Shelton Daniel's who held a constructive discussion with Ambassador Huntley, all we’ve heard have been pontifications and political diatribe.

In part II of this article, I will therefore do a largely “academic” analysis of the report. I will attempt to show that the report does have flaws and it is by no means impenetrable. STAY TUNED!

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