Sun | Sep 19, 2021

Holness dragging feet on impeachment motion – Golding

Published:Thursday | August 5, 2021 | 12:36 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Staff Reporter
Holness
Holness

Opposition Leader Mark Golding is chiding the Andrew Holness administration for “dragging its feet” on a Constitution (Amendment) (Impeachment) bill that was tabled in Parliament in April. Golding said that he met with the prime minister at Jamaica...

Opposition Leader Mark Golding is chiding the Andrew Holness administration for “dragging its feet” on a Constitution (Amendment) (Impeachment) bill that was tabled in Parliament in April.

Golding said that he met with the prime minister at Jamaica House on June 3 and requested that the bill be referred to a joint select committee (JSC) for extensive deliberations, but to date, the prime minister has not provided a definitive response.

Leader of Government Business Edmund Bartlett told The Gleaner on Wednesday that Golding’s private member’s motion on impeachment was among several others that would be dealt with in due course.

Bartlett said that the motion moved by Mikael Phillips, member of parliament for Manchester North Western, urging the Government to remove the British monarch as Jamaica’s head of state, would also be dealt with.

Golding said that the prime minister indicated to him that he would discuss the matter with his team and provide a response by June 8.

According to the opposition leader, he did not hear from the prime minister as at Thursday, June 10, and as such, he wrote him a letter that same day.

“The PM responded to my note by a WhatsApp message, saying, ‘I received your note. Pardon the delay in response. While I discussed the matter internally, we did not finalise a position. I will seek to finalise internally and revert shortly,’” Golding said.

However, Golding said that on Tuesday, July 6, 2021, he asked Bartlett for an update on the request for the impeachment bill to be sent to a JSC.

The opposition leader said that he was told to seek another meeting with the prime minister.

In his June 10, 2021, letter to the prime minister, Golding thanked Holness for meeting with him on June 3 at Jamaica House.

Golding indicated in his letter that he sought the support of the prime minister for the Constitutional (Amendment) (Impeachment) 2021 bill to be referred to a JSC.

He reminded the prime minister that the current bill is substantially based on the 2011 bill that was tabled in the House by then Prime Minister Bruce Golding, in furtherance of a 2007 manifesto commitment of the Jamaica Labour Party.

However, the 2011 bill was neither debated nor passed, and the 2016 JLP manifesto renewed the commitment to enact impeachment as a constitutional process.

He told Holness that recent events have underscored the inadequacy of the existing constitutional arrangements for ensuring accountability among parliamentarians who engage in egregious conduct unbecoming of their office.

“This provided the motivation for me to resuscitate the 2011 bill, to make some refinements to make it more fit for purpose in light of evolving issues confronting our society and to bring it to Parliament as a private member’s bill,” Golding said.

Noting that much has changed since the 1990s, Golding said that a JSC review of the bill is important.

“It would be good for Jamaica if we embrace the JSC process on a bipartisan basis, enabling an open and inclusive opportunity for all interested individuals and groups in the society to express their views on the bill,” the letter stated.

Golding told Holness that as the person who authored and tabled the 2021 bill, he was willing to chair the JSC, “if you are willing to facilitate this in the spirit of bipartisanship that enabled the Charter of Rights legislation to be passed into law in 2011, perhaps the most significant legislative achievement of this era”.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com