IF what transpired in Parliament last Tuesday is any indication of what the much-called-for bipartisanship this country needs, then our democracy is in worse a peril than we initially thought. Too many charades continue to stunt our growth as a nation still trying to assert itself that it has come of age.
That the Parliament continues to be the place where post- and pre-election egotistical campaigns are fought – sadly, in the ostensible name of a people demanding better leadership from their public officials – is to say the least, unfortunate.
While both sides of the House continue to focus their defense on protocol and traditions, the very people whose business and faith were placed in the hope for betterment and good governance, now find their faith broken simply because politicians choose to not act in a business-like and professional manner.
Just south of our shores lies sister Caribbean state, Venezuela, where the opposition parties are virtually treated as voiceless. Violence over the past few weeks has left over 50 people dead and a country’s social, political and economic future left hanging in the balance. If we decry these happenings there, why are we planting the seeds here that encourage — God forbid – such an environment?
With nearly ten speakers down to debate the Appropriations Bill on the day, Tuesday’s session seemed to be a rushed and done deal on the part of the government’s side. In what has turned out to be a 35-scond lull between Laborie MP, Alva Baptiste, ending his presentation and Prime Minister Allen Chastanet catching the House Speaker’s attention, it seems that revenge was the order of the day.
In May last year, the United Workers Party complained bitterly that they were not allowed to debate the Appropriations Bill, even taking to the William Peter Boulevard that same week to vent their frustration at the then government. Incidentally, that moment served as a pivotal turnaround for the UWP’s popularity as many felt their voice was being silenced. Today, history sadly repeats itself.
As a nation, there are too many multi-faceted issues confronting us squarely for us to even blink let alone find the time for playing political games with the people’s future. Unemployment is high, crime has put on a bolder face, mothers are forced to make ends meet by any regrettable means necessary and fathers continue to abdicate their roles. Why, then, should the people who were elected to run our affairs act as if they are doing us a favour instead of a national service?
There must come a time when with a united voice people need to draw a line in the sand and demand that politicians raise above the abysmal status quo and stand up for the people. We cannot allow to have cop-outs and walk-outs in Parliament becoming the norm when the people are expecting vociferous debates on how their money is to be spent.
Also, both political parties have past their 50-year-old milestone and both have seasoned politicians who need to speak out more often when petty politics take precedence over good governance. If not, then what is the electorate really voting for every five years – a promise of abdication of duty and cold servings of revenge?