Sun | Aug 20, 2017

The spectacle that is Andrew Holness

Published:Sunday | March 1, 2015 | 3:00 AM

Andrew Michael Holness is the leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition and the leader of the Jamaica Labour Party. He is also a 43-year old, educated, post-Independence persona. He is part of the future for a democracy that is one of 26 nations that has never changed the government of the day by any other means than the ballot.

We are governed, yes, governed by the written Constitution of Jamaica. You should not aspire, seek and finally ascend to the highest political office without a proper understanding of the Constitution and its meaning for Jamaica. He has held high office for 15 or more years. Time has passed that should make him conversant with the Constitution of Jamaica.

The Constitution was drafted by a team that included the acknowledged mentor for Mr Holness. He is still available to provide first-person instructions on the intent of the document. He is available to the leader of the Opposition to consult as to the significance of the document. Holness, as leader, should never have been placed in a position that results in the Constitutional Court ruling that he acted unlawfully, contrary to public policy, and was responsible for an action that proved null and void, from its inception.

This brings the question as to the extent of his recognition that he is the holder of an office, as stated in the Constitution. Where he begins to act contrary to, and in spite of, the Constitution, what is the message? Could ruling by decree be far off? Could anointing yourself with the title Maximum Ruler or Ruler for Life? Remember that great oaks from little acorns grow. There is very great danger associated with acting contrary to the Constitution such that the court had to rule as it did.

Andrew Holness now clutches to the questionable use of the lack of intent on his part in this breach. He did not intend. We speed on the highway, crash, causing the loss of life, and because we did not intend to do so, it should not be that we could be charged with manslaughter, much less get convicted.

Here comes the puerile, sophomoric reasoning. He is doing it for the Jamaican people. He is doing his best to further force a court to find that he violated the Constitution. The reasoning in support of the appeal is exceptionally weak. Error of fact! This is something that did not assist in any of the statements that have been issued from him.

Let us recall what were the salient parts of his statements. First, it did not 'disturb' the composition of the Senate. Second, he is taking legal advice on the implication that the ruling may be ambiguous or inarticulately worded, and third, contrition. I am analogous to King David and I apologise to my friends, Chris and Arthur. No mention of errors of fact. No specificity of the error of the law is stated. Look at the backdrop for the contrition, the willing, most designated place to seek forgiveness - the church.

Andrew Holness is now off on a quest to have the proceedings in the matter, as brought by the Senate through the clerk of the Houses of the Parliament, to have one desired outcome - delay. It is apparent that he seeks a delay that could result from the proceedings in the Court of Appeal, causing the other proceeding to be stayed pending their ruling.

Why have adjudication on the same matter going forward in two judicial arenas at the same time? He is, however, entitled, as a citizen in accord with the same Constitution to the right of appeal. Use it, Mr Holness, but remember the right arises from the same Constitution you violated. The intent is to stall for time as the appellate process is usually not one of swift disposition.

 

HE WEAVES A WEB

 

Maybe he seeks the delay until the parliamentary election has been held. He weaves a web. He needs to be assured that even if he were to be prime minister at the time of a ruling from the Court of Appeal, which upholds the lower Constitution Court, he must resign. He must vacate that constitutional office.

The JLP is in resultant turmoil. Members calling for his resignation. Meetings that are not held. Meetings held and non-action reputed as decisions. Those alleged to have exceeded the terms of responsibility and the attempt to muzzle others.

This is all, however, the action of a private group acting for a lawful public purpose. Their actions are to be viewed as not threatening the Constitution and our democracy. They can go forward to the fray. Where does it end? Does anyone know how to bring about the return of the late great Sir Alexander Bustamante?

It is easy to recall that Sir Alexander Bustamante was of few words, but clear in the message he conveyed. "We are with the West." Enough said. Sir Alexander, at this kind of incident, would be sure and swift with response. I cannot state what the response would be, but I do know he would not have taken kindly to approving of a constitutional breach. He was first a patriot, hence he is now a national hero. How sad that we now have a spectacle for leadership. Rest well, Sir Alexander.

- Ronald Mason is an immigration attorney and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and nationsagenda@gmail.com.