Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 20, 2017 (SKNIS): The 42nd annual Regional Conference of the Caribbean, the Americans and the Atlantic Region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) creates an avenue for parliamentarians and media to increase collaboration, said Acting Prime Minister, the Honourable Shawn Richards.
“Conference 42 provides a great platform for us to dialogue, exchange ideas and best practices. It also provides an opportunity to strengthen existing relationships and to forge new ones, which will redound to the benefit of all of our people,” said Acting Prime Minister Richards, while speaking at the opening ceremony of the CPA Conference on Monday, June 19. “I therefore implore all delegates to capitalize on every opportunity that this conference provides, be it parliamentary, the opportunity to sightsee or the chance to shake a leg to sweet Kittitian and Nevisian cultural music.”
Minister Richards noted that parliamentarians and the media have a responsibility to the general public, as the public deserves the right to know and be informed.
“Political, economic and social development are best facilitated when the public is not only informed, but truly engaged. It is through the media that much of that engagement is often initiated. Those, the majority, the public who do not sit in our parliaments are able to voice their own views and opinions, giving way for parliamentarians to hear and hopefully to act,” said Minister Richards, adding that it is important for media to recognize that it plays a vital role. “It must consider its obligation to provide the public with timely, objective and meaningful information as sacred. This should be done regardless of what media personnel feel about Members of Parliament.”
Equally important, the acting prime minister said that parliamentarians must see the media as being an equal partner in the democracy process.
“Parliamentarians must therefore, strive to protect the media, provide it with timely and accurate information and engender a professional relationship with the media. Ultimately, each must understand that it has a mandate to empower the public,” he said, while commenting on the wide range of topics to be discussed during the conference. “I am certain [the topics] will lend to executing discussions as to how we can engender positive partnerships of our parliaments, improve the relationship between the parliamentarians and the media, as well as addressing the present need for parliamentary independence, which will inevitably allow out parliaments to function more effectively.”
The acting prime minister encouraged parliamentarians to work collectively to enhance democracy, noting that there is no better place than the parliaments to commence the process. He added that parliamentarians should not only recognize the important role of the media, but ensure that the media is incorporated.
CPA 42 runs from June 16-23 and observes the theme “Enhancing Democracy through the use of the Parliamentary System and the Media”. It is being held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort.