The New Today


Grenadians again undergoing rude pressure for constitution reform

It is not known what the ‘attitude and reaction’ of vibrant constitutional lawyer Dr. Francis Alexis, KC, has been towards the circulated article, “Stage Set for Alexis To Revitalize Open University On Grenada Constitution”.

In making references to pertinent circumstances, the article essentially relies on or arises from the astonishing push by the learned Attorney to have the Oath of Allegiance as formulated in Grenada’s 1974 Independence Constitution abruptly changed on 07 February 2024, and on the basis of the entry of a bold actor in the debate on Constitution Reform as described in the follow-up article “Monarchist League Boosts Open University On Grenada Constitution, But!”.

Whatever the case may be, on 14 May 2024 which marks the anniversary of the five-day 1973 Grenada Constitutional Conference held in Marlborough House, London, England towards Political Independence, Alexis launches in a press conference the Non-Governmental Organisation Citizens for Constitution Reform (CCR) with prominent high-statusness’ of the CCR is to achieve changing Grenada’s Oath of Allegiance from swearing to the King of England but to the State of Grenada and to this end, it has developed and submitted a draft legislation to the Government and the main Opposition party for assessment and consideration.

Dr. Alexis preaches that such a constitutional change does not necessitate a referendum but can be accomplished through an act passed by both the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament as reflected in one of his public theses “Reasoning and precedent advocate change of Oath of Allegiance” citing Grenada’s constitutional provisions and what occurs in other countries.

Even though this constitutional amendment does not require a vote by the people, it must be of ‘tremendous rudeness’ for the CCR not to place a copy of the draft legislation in the public domain through the Press for familiarisation and scrutiny.

Indeed, the Grenadian-people and/or civil society organisations such as the 2018 Independent Caucus for Constitution Reform which, being concerned citizens ‘devoted and focused’ on advancing constitutional governance with public discourses, have been ignored by the CCR.

Without delving during this occasion into the ‘soundness and veracity’ of Dr. Alexis’ interpretation and application of sections 39 (2)& (3) and Appendix 3 of the Constitution and of his references to pertinent constitutional doctrines as concerns the changing of the Oath of Allegiance, the ‘attitude and manner’ displays by the CCR thus far is contrary to any ‘goodwill and good faith’ for the dignity and sovereignty of the Grenadian people and seems to radiate the same tone as the previous attempts in 2016 and 2018 for Constitution Reform.

Review on the internet the October 2016 article “Grenada Constitution Reform: The Misleading Phenomena” and the October 2018 article “Grenadians Are Hauled to Vote In A Flawed CCJ Referendum” which highlights a well-orchestrated thrust to mislead the Grenadian people on the noble ‘call and cause’ for genuine and meaningful constitutional reforms.

The CCJ referendum concerns the replacement of the British Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the final court of appeal, as presented in the ‘complicated and packed’ Constitution of Grenada (Caribbean Court of Justice and Other Justice-Related Matters) (Amendment) Bill which also has a clause for altering the Oath of Allegiance; the Oath Clause serves more or less as an ‘attached carrot’ or as a red herring for the people’s acceptance of CCJ which is the ‘main goal’ about Constitution Reform for the powers-that-be.

On the onset, the CCR seems to be plagued with some measure of ‘personality and philosophy’ ugliness including gross ‘arrogance and rudeness and dictatorship’, whilst its introduction is a welcome gesture for any objective educational undertakings of Civic-consciousness.

What is the real motive of the CCR; in whose interest and in whose name is its formation? Is the CCR of any ‘full-term pregnancy’ to crush the Grenada Monarchist League which has been ‘rebuking and challenging’ Dr. Alexis and proponents to ‘stop the Misinformation about our Head of State and Oath of Allegiance’, claiming most prominently and repeatedly that the Oath of Allegiance as presently ‘implies and applies’ is not about swearing to the King of England, but it is already about swearing to the State of Grenada via His Majesty.

It should be of great interest to observe the rivalry between the CCR and the Monarchist League for ‘acceptance and action’ by the Government of Grenada led by Dickon Mitchell, since both entities have submitted different ‘positions and proposals’ on the Oath of Allegiance for attention.

It would be appropriate to also incorporate the affirmation of Prime Minister Mitchell about the ‘advantage and approval’ for Monarchy against Republicanism from the provocative keynote address on “Reparations, Republicanism and The Rule of Law: What Next After Fifty Years Of Independence?” was delivered at the 22 November 2023 memorial public lecture of the Bar Association, featuring that to replace the Governor-General for a President is “cumbersome, expensive and undemocratic” with no real difference but having all the trappings remain.

It would indeed be ‘in poor taste and unpatriotic’ if the lead participants of the CCR are determined to seize any opportunity for supremacy of ‘ego and profile and honour’, such as by registering in national services and producing institutional publications; as the evidence of this is usually the requirement for obtaining credentials and positions within the academic and professional realms.

Why should there be the expenditure of ‘valuable and scarce’ time and resources on ‘frivolous and superficial’, and/or on ‘ceremonial and symbolic’ accomplishments?

How much of a ‘priority and substance’ must be the expenditure to amend the form of the Oath of Allegiance than to advocate for issues such as promoting sustainable livelihoods and socio-economic rights, constitutional observances for Local Government and Constituency Boundaries Commission, and the practices of good governance with severe consequences for corruption?

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Is the emotion to attend to the Oath of Allegiance about a void, deficiency, error, obstacle and/or injustice in the Constitution; does being anti-colonisation justify the emotional effort; does this thrust form part of the 05 February 2024 Prime Minister’s ‘Vision 75 beyond fifty years for Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique’; and how the Oath Change relate to evolution of the Grenadian-society?

Should Grenadians be so belittled with ‘rude pressure’ to boast about creating history on Constitution Reform, by using the ‘anti-colonial expressions and low-hanging fruit’ of the Oath of Allegiance?

It must be instructive how Dr. Alexis has been ‘lamenting and disdaining’ the ‘input and force’ of the sovereign constituents in the process of changing their supreme governing law, the Constitution, and certain other laws, as prescribed by section 39 (5) of the said Constitution.

Consistent with the significance and recognition of Grenada’s Golden Jubilee of 07 February 2024 which extends yearlong, shouldn’t it have been considered more worthwhile for the CCR to undertake a devotion of responding to the Justice Nicholas Liverpool 2002 report of the Grenada Constitution Review Commission, with particular attention towards the “patriation of the Constitution” and thereby replacing the “Imperial Order-in Council” presently used as Grenada’s Constitution, with an ‘Indigenous Constitution’?

On that note, it must be established whether or not it was ‘necessary and appropriate and sufficient’ for the Government to ‘plan and promote and pass’ a resolution in the Parliament to ‘further endorse the sentiment of the motion of 11th December 1973 by the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom about the Grenada Termination of Association Order 1973 which took effect on 07 February 1974’?

That is, the 2002 Constitutional Review Report relates Some Things to Consider, thus in part: “In a democratic State, a constitution derives its validity and authority from the consent or acceptance of its citizens, either directly or indirectly. It is therefore instructive that neither the document which terminated Grenada’s status as an Associate State of the United Kingdom nor the existing Constitution of Grenada is an enactment of the Parliament of Grenada.

“On its face, each document is an Imperial Order-in-Council of The Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty. Further, the Constitution has never received legislative approval by the Parliament of Grenada, nor has it been ratified in a public referendum. Rather, at the First Session of the Parliament of Grenada, on the 7th day of February, 1974, the Constitutional Instruments were handed over to the Honourable Prime Minister….”

The Hansard of that meeting of Parliament discloses that there was no debate on these Instruments nor was any resolution passed for their acceptance.

For this reason, among others, it may be considered appropriate that the process of independence should be completed and the constitutional practice of the State be brought in line with the practices in other Caribbean States, such as Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Belize …. respecting the patriation of the Constitution so as to ensure that it draws its authority and validity from an Act of the nation’s Parliament and no longer from the Parliament of the United Kingdom.” .

“Patriation of the Constitution” means that the existing Constitution, now an Imperial Order-in Council, will be replaced by one which is an enactment of the Parliament of the State, by which the citizens, through their elected representatives, and after a public referendum, would formally proclaim the Constitution as their own.”

Whatever the ‘defences and rationales and persuasions’ by the CCR about changing Grenada’s Oath of Allegiance, and further to the concerns about the ‘priority and substance’ of that change, it must be acknowledged how ‘awkward and silly’ the thrust when considering that Grenada’s Constitution is an Imperial Order-in Council, been ‘formulated, owned and passed’ by the British Majesty, and for which the changing of the Oath would have no effect.

Grenada would still be functioning as a Westminster type of parliament, and with no substantial difference in the role and remuneration of the Governor-General.

The CCR gives no opportunity for options by the Grenadian people about the new form of the Oath, such as instead of Grenada to have the swearing to a ‘living embodiment’ of the State. Especially when considering the definition of Grenada in the Interpretation and General Provisions Act and the maneuvers to change the ‘geographical and territorial’ expanse of the State of Grenada by the 2016 Constitution of Grenada (Name of State) (Amendment) Bill.

Please also review the past article “The Context and Sense of Pledging Allegiance to Grenada”.

Have Dr. Alexis and the CCR contemplated and prepared for any ‘consequences and infringements and disturbances’ that changing the Oath of Allegiance may bring; or, is changing the Oath a prerequisite for the success of Reparations from the Colonisers?

Attorney Ruggles Ferguson, KC could be regarded as the most ‘moderate and sensitive’ member of CCR in advocating for educational engagement with the general public on the Constitution and Constitution Reform, which has been consistent with and recently he concurs in principle with the persistent and resolute stance of Citizen John Rullow to have a constitution developed by the sovereign constituents through a Constituent Assembly.

Former Revolutionary soldier Joseph Ewart Layne who studied law in prison, follows a most ‘careful and sober’ path with pertinent research in attempting to reach reasoned and professional positions on technical issues.

The Open University approach is like the proven Constituent Assembly principle, and the CCR should encourage the parliamentarians to first consult with the constituencies about the Oath of Allegiance.

J. K. Roberts