by Neville Bartlette
Opposition politicians have consistently attempted to turn the boundaries issue into a matter of controversy and division. And this they have been doing despite the fact that they, themselves, on numerous occasions have spoken out strongly to demand boundary changes. Today their games were dealt a fatal blow by the High Court today (Tuesday). The ruling proves it is a very good day for justice and the proper constitutionally mandated passage of law.
Opposition Leader Mark Brantley himself publicly lamented, six years ago, that the huge population differences between his constituency #9 and others “stuck out like a sore thumb”. The Honourable Sam Condor for years had been extremely vocal in his public insistence that the boundaries be changed. International election observers have repeatedly demanded this. And most importantly, the Constitution tells us that the equalization of our boundaries is key to the underpinning of our democracy.
In view of the above, the Speaker of the National Assembly rightly in January 2015 found this issue was of sufficiently pressing national importance that this matter should be heard in an emergency Parliamentary session. And our nation is all the better for it. There are some key facts, however, which some would very much like to become lost:
The Government has been attempting, for several years to equalize the country’s constituency boundaries. The constitutionally appointed opposition members of the Electoral Boundaries Commission were full participants in the Commission’s proceedings from the moment of its inception in 2012 until its final meeting on January 16, 2015. During the ensuing parliamentary debate, there was one member of the opposition who was absent and that was because he was off-island. Eugene Hamilton was asked to leave the chamber, and that was in response to his un-parliamentary behaviour. Whereas this process, as managed by the Labour Government, has taken place over a period of several years, boundary changes during the previous PAM administration, from beginning to end, in their entirety, were completed in less than one day. The Labour Government has therefore been unfailingly transparent and fair.
And what is particularly fair is the fact that as of January 2015, political access, parliamentary workloads, and access to government resources will now be evenly distributed across the Federation, and the voters of St. Kitts-Nevis will now have the fair representation that they deserve.