18 August, 2010


We continue to look at Kate Sullivan's initial recommendations for Changes to Constitutional and Electoral Arrangements in the Turks and Caicos Islands.  You can download and read them by clicking on the link above.  I continue at paragraph thirteen of the paper I originally sent to the Editors of the TCI Journal:
[13]      Recommendation 9 would have the Constitution provide that the Governor may act contrary to the advice of Cabinet in an area of ministerial responsibility if to act in accordance with the Cabinet's advice would be contrary to the Statement of Governance Principles.  At first blush this may seem acceptable on the basis that the ministers have negotiated the Principles, and should not be permitted to act in breach of their contract to abide by them. 
The objection to the Recommendation is that it is an anti-democratic provision.  It does nothing to promote and develop good governance in the Territory.  Besides, there is no reason to suppose that a Governor will be seized of a greater sense of good governance than anyone else, as we have seen recently in Anguilla with the appointment by the Governor of the Commissioner of Police for Anguilla to be one of the two Magistrates for Anguilla on the day after the Commissioner surrendered his long-time previous appointment. 
It is to be remembered that we are talking about the Governor rejecting the advice of a Cabinet in which the Governor, his Deputy, and the Attorney-General have sat and participated in formulating.  If, in the presence of these worthy individuals, the Cabinet comes to a decision that some action is needed in the interests of the country, it is simply not acceptable for the Governor to be empowered unilaterally to act contrary to the advice. 
There are other preferable mechanisms that will introduce transparency and good governance into Cabinet decision-making than by making the democratic institution of the Cabinet subservient to the non-democratic one of the office of the Governor. 
Opening up uncontroversial Cabinet discussions to the press and public is one such mechanism. 
Making it mandatory for there to be a press conference immediately after Cabinet meetings, at which the press was not present, to brief the press on major decisions is another. 
Removing secrecy from Cabinet decisions is the best guarantee there is for ventilating and cleaning up those Cabinet processes that do not require secrecy.
To be continued …
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