Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn has argued that Barbados needs to have a completely new Constitution when it transitions to a Parliamentary Republic.
Although supporting the planned transition to republican status, he said a new charter should be drawn up to make the process more meaningful.
Contributing to debate on the Constitution Amendment Bill No. 2 in the Senate on Wednesday, Franklyn argued that the current Constitution is actually a schedule to the Barbados Independence Order under which Barbados was granted independence in 1966.
“The Independence Act of 1966 was a British act; it was never passed in our Parliament. Essentially, all we are doing is taking a document the British gave us and making a few changes to it,” he said.
In July, when she announced the move to a republic, Prime Minister Mottley said that a Republic Transition Advisory Committee along with other members of civil society and the Government would lead discussions on a new Constitution and Barbadians’ views would be solicited.
However, questioning “the indecent haste the republic venture has taken”, Senator Franklyn pointed out that there have so far been three Constitutional Amendment drafts submitted between September 20 and 28, yet the Committee has yet to submit a report.
“Why set up a committee to report the views of Barbadians when you have already made up your mind? It should have been done before so we could truly have a say in the document.
“The way we are going about this process does not really speak to who we are as a people. Barbadians have a lot of pride and this process I am seeing here is not something to be proud of. We should have a Constitution drawn up by us with our ideas, and I would willingly support that.”
Franklyn stated that rather than rushing to republican status by November 30 this year and then making amendments to the laws, Government should come up with an all-new constitution and move towards republican status sometime next year, after getting input from the Barbadian public on the matter.
The Opposition Senator stressed that he did not oppose Barbados breaking ties with the British monarchy, saying he had supported the idea since late Prime Minister Owen Arthur spoke about it two decades ago.
However, he added: “We don’t need to fear becoming a republic but rather fear those who govern it, because from what I am seeing, it seems as though we are creating a BLP [Barbados Labour Party] Republic or a Mottley Republic, where the Government is remaking this country for the benefit of their party.”
Citing an example of this, he accused Government of “ignoring the Public Service Act and creating a Public Affairs Department to do the same work as the Government Information Service and employing party faithfuls in it”.