I am not in favour of a referendum to approve a new Constitution. While we are dealing with constituencies and elections, I should return to the question of a referendum. I have previously explained why it will not, in my opinion, be a good idea to hold a referendum to approve any new Constitution.
One, history shows that, in the West Indies, people vote according to how they feel about the government. If they approve of how the government is functioning, they vote yes. If they disapprove of government’s conduct, they vote no.
Secondly, a Constitution is too complicated for a referendum. You may approve of most of the provisions, but object to one or two. How do you show your concerns in a referendum? It is not sensible to hold a referendum on a Constitution.
It is preferable to hold a series of educational and public events to inform the public about the issues, and to get their feedback. The challenge is to reflect the opinions of the people in the subsequent draft Constitution. That is what the Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission has already done in its 2006 Report to the government following its consultations with the people of Anguilla.
However, if we want a referendum we will need a law to govern the holding of the referendum. Such a law is not complicated. British Columbia has a simple seven section Act that we can copy. The British have long had Referendum Acts. The Bahamas has an even simpler six section Referendum Act. None of this is rocket science.
We could easily do it. If we really want to hold a referendum, there is no one who can stop us from enacting the necessary law. For the reasons given, I just don’t think it is a good idea.