“The minute parliament opens, the government is going to crash,” lawyer Jimmy Bristol said in a television interview on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Tillman Thomas’s National Democratic Congress government, elected with 11 MPs in July 2008, now has only six of the 15 members of the House of Representatives, which was prorogued on September 15.
“To prorogue parliament is within the confines of the constitution,” admitted Bristol, who is president of the Grenada Bar Association. “But how you do, what you do, are very important. We all know the reason for the prorogation.”
According to Bristol, “The talk on the street, in all quarters of life in Grenada, is that the government has done the wrong thing; they continue to do the wrong thing; and they’re quite looking forward to the elections.”
Thomas has defended the prorogation of parliament, saying it’s normal under the Westminster system of government in Commonwealth countries like Grenada.
“The important thing is that all the rights of the people are being protected. It’s a free society and nobody is under any restriction or no oppression or any difficulty,” he said.
However, Bristol described the government’s action as game-playing intended for the survival of the ruling administration.
“What the government is trying to do is delay the inevitable,” Bristol charged. “They’re playing games with our democratic system. That is not acceptable; it is not a good thing.”
The lawyer, who served as attorney general from 2008 until resigning in 2009, said that suspending parliamentary sittings is “the shutting down of one of the three pillars of our constitutional democracy. We have the judiciary; we have the executive which is cabinet; and we have the legislature which is parliament.”
Parliament – apart from legislating – is the place where MPs, elected by the population, go to air the views of the people in their communities, the former AG said.
“If that is shut down, then that aspect of our democracy is also shut down,” Bristol said.
“What the government has done, it has shut down any debate, or stymied any debate, on any issue. So, we have to resort to the media or to gossiping in the rumshops. And that is not a good thing for a democracy.”
Bristol does not believe that the government could gain anything positive from proroguing parliament, and from delaying calling general elections.
“It’s rather silly,” he said. “Because, if you know that you do not in fact command the majority, the right and proper thing is to say, gentlemen, we are not wanted; or, we have a minority, let us go to the polls and see if the people really want us.”
Government must “let the people decide” in an election, Bristol emphasized.
“Delaying it only makes it worse. Because, people aren’t stupid; they know what is going on,” said Bristol.
Caribbean News Now