Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Holness abandoning the JLP's great ideas

Published:Tuesday | May 19, 2015 | 12:00 AM


I write in response to the letter by Richard Francis ('JLP must reclaim its CCJ legacy') on May 16, as well as to your editorial on May 18 ('Holness: flaccid retort, poor judgement') concerning Opposition Leader Andrew Holness.

As a person who likes the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), I have to say that Mr Francis has a major point. The JLP often comes up with great ideas (the Caribbean Court of Justice is one of them), but it is difficult to square these good ideas with the attitude the party adopts when it comes to implementing them.

The CCJ is a JLP legacy, whether or not Holness and the JLP want to acknowledge it. In essence, they are now opposing their own proposal/

accomplishment rather than claiming it. In places like the United Kingdom, Canada or the USA, a strong and stable political party with a good leader would have long since proudly adopted this issue.

And were the JLP and Holness to be like parties in those places, he would have been in favour of the CCJ and wished to cement it (as an institution the JLP could always claim as its brainchild) through a referendum.

Instead, Holness and the JLP oppose the CCJ and end up looking shallow when they say poverty should be addressed first (making the call for an expensive referendum seem opportunistic rather than principled, especially since we had no referendum on the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms).

Now Holness claims to be a nationalist and wants a Jamaican final court, but only back in November 2014 at the National Arena, he was declaring the Privy Council one of our "greatest assets", and that it was folly to "tek weh ourselves from it".

He also claims integration be a "fleeting and elusive dream" and not to be of that school and that the people spoke on this matter 54 years ago, yet one of the persons who actually participated in that referendum and campaigned against federation was Hugh Shearer, whose government it was that proposed the CCJ in 1970 in the first place!

Shearer's government came up with a fantastic idea in a regional court; it combines the best of the Privy Council (an "internationally recognised court of arbitration and appeal" as Holness praised it in November) with high-calibre judges drawn from a wide pool insulated from political influence and a local final court (since the CCJ is itinerant and has already sat in Jamaica) in providing greater access to justice for Jamaicans.