All eyes on the Senate’s CCJ debate this Friday

Uncategorized October 13, 2015

Christopher Tufton (left) and Arthur Williams, the two sacked senators who were replaced following a Supreme Court ruling, confer during a sitting of the Senate. The nation will know Friday if they break from the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party and vote with Government senators for the Caribbean Court of Justice. (JAMAICA OBSERVER FILE PHOTO)

THE Senate will start debating the three Bills which have been tabled by the prime minister in the Government’s search for parliamentary support to replace the Privy Council in England with the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as Jamaica’s final court of appeal.

What makes the Senate debate more interesting than the debate in the House of Representatives, which ended on May 12 with the Government’s two-thirds majority safely carrying the Bill across that threshold, is obviously the fact that there can be no two-thirds majority in the Senate unless one of the Opposition members votes with the Government.

All eyes have been on the two Opposition senators who were returned to the Senate in February, after a Supreme Court ruling, as candidates for reversing their positions. However, speculation is that it is a very unlikely outcome, considering that these are not senators without strong, traditional loyalties as were the people who had temporarily replaced them during their temporary absence from Parliament.

An inside informed assessment suggests that the Opposition might have been more vulnerable to a reversal of support, had they kept the two senators who had replaced them and whose political loyalty has been less tried and tested in the political arena.

This suggests that the Government might have had a better chance of having the controversial Bill — An Act to Amend the Constitution of Jamaica to provide for the replacement of appeals to Her Majesty in Council with new provisions for appeals to the Caribbean Court of Justice as Jamaica’s final appellate court — passed prior to the reversal of the Leader of the Opposition’s decision to replace those two senators with senators with less transparent ties to the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

It also highlights the value of the framers of the Jamaica Constitution decision to allow for the appointment of eight Opposition senators, as a counter to any fascist intention to manipulate the Constitution with a two-thirds majority in both houses.

Reminding the Senate about the debate on Friday, Leader of Government Business Senator AJ Nicholson rose at the end of last week’s sitting and reminded members that the debate takes place during heritage month, including the 150th anniversary of the Morant Bay Rebellion.

“So, Sir,” he told the President, Senator Floyd Morris, “We will bear those things in mind and respectfully ask that the Senate be adjourned to next (this) week Friday.”

Leader of Opposition Business, Senator Tom Tavares-Finson, rose and reminded the Senate that Friday was actually the birthday of Senator Robert Montague (Opposition).

And, as the members picked up their bags to leave the chamber, Senator KD Knight (Government) rose and remarked, that “Mr President, I rise to join the debate concerning the birthday.”

The Senate erupted in laughter, and as the members prepared to leave the chamber, Senator Norman Grant (Government) rose and wished Senator Montague “A happy birthday and all the best”.



Published By: The Observer

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