Redwood's resignation and Vision 2030
Well, so much for Vision 2030; so much for this dual-citizenship debate; so much for persons offering themselves for representational office because they are committed to fight tooth and nail to advance the cause of their beloved country.
The Reverend Stanley Redwood's resignation as president of the Senate in order to migrate with his family to Canada brings all the aforementioned into sharp focus. Not so long ago, Redwood was seeking representational office, seeking to be a lawmaker and policy shaper in the legislature. He, like many others who run for elected office, embraced Vision 2030 and twice tried to convince voters in St Elizabeth to make him their man. Redwood had all of us believing he truly thought of Jamaica as being the place of choice to live, work, raise family and do business.
By his own admission, Redwood applied to be emigrated to Canada approximately five years ago, a process which is to culminate with his departure on May 20. One wonders when exactly five years ago Redwood decided to migrate - if it was before or after he was beaten by Dr Christopher Tufton for the South West St Elizabeth seat in September 2007.
The Gavel acknowledges that Redwood has a right to migrate, or take temporary leave of his homeland, as he has put it.
We know that he is duty-bound to provide for his family, and therefore may have found it difficult to resist the opportunity of employment that Canada offers.
We, however, feel it sends the wrong signal when the chief senator of a country appears no longer convinced Jamaica is the place of choice to live, work raise family and do business - at least for now.
In our view, it is telling other Jamaicans, especially those who are educated and skilled, that weathering the storm on this rock called Jamaica is akin to madness. It suggests that we, too, should run for the safe haven of Canada or other developed countries.
One wonders whether Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller thoroughly thought through her decision to appoint Redwood to the Senate given that Canada was a phone call away. Here it is that she picked someone, albeit a most patriotic Jamaican, to serve in the country's legislature; she anointed him as president, a decision which his colleagues gave meaning to, thereby putting him in a position where he signs off on all bills that will affect the Jamaican people.
It was not too long ago that Redwood was preaching the Jamaica-first doctrine when it came to the matter of dual citizenship. Time and again, he has posited the view that Jamaica should move to change the Constitution to remove the possibility of having persons who dual nationalities, including Commonwealth nationals, from serving in the Parliament.
In a Letter to the Editor published in this newspaper on April 21, 2008, approximately one year after Redwood applied for Canadian citizenship, he warned that "we should also be cautious about approaching constitutional reforms with clouded visions of what is immediate and expedient".
The court had just disqualified Daryl Vaz from sitting in the House of Representatives because he was in breach of the Constitution, having sworn allegiance to a foreign power - the United States. With the public debate raging about how the country should treat with dual citizenship, Redwood suggested that "it is not inconceivable that trade and other conflicts can arise between Jamaica and even other Commonwealth countries.
"In our 46th year of Independence, we should now be looking to remove, not add to the possibility of dual citizens in Parliament," Redwood said.
He further argued: "There is absolutely no need to expand any such provisions. Whatever your origin, if you wish to represent this nation at that level, all you are required to do is to demonstrate your loyalty to the nation by renouncing your dual citizenship ahead of your nomination. It is as simple as that. We do not even ask that you be born here."
TESTING THE WATERS?
While it is clear that Redwood was at no time a dual citizen while he served in the Senate, it is clear that at the time of penning his letter on the dual citizenship issue, he had already taken steps to affect his own residency status. And worse yet, when he took the Oath of Office in January 2012, Redwood knew, that notwithstanding him being patriotic, notwithstanding Canada being a Commonwealth citizen, that one day soon he would turn to the Land of the Maple Leaf to provide that which Jamaica has been unable to present him.
Perhaps, in appointing Redwood, Simpson Miller was testing to see what it would be like to have a member of the diaspora in the legislature; consistent to suggestions for representatives of that group to sit in the Parliament. If that was the case, the experiment succeeded because Redwood was excellent as president. He brought a sense of calm, fairness and even-handedness that is not often seen in the Senate, and certainly left his mark despite serving only 16 months.
We wonder if the prime minister will search hard for another potential dual citizen to name as his replacement. If we dare to suggest anything to the prime minister, it would be that a condition of serving as a legislator must be that persons be bonded to the country for 25 years, sharing the fruits of their labour with all Jamaicans.