Friday, February 15, 2013

Commentary: Independent Senators must resign to give Carmona free hand to name new independent senators

Senate President Timothy Hamel Smith is a member of the Congress of the People, appointed by the governing coalition.
(This column first appreared on JYOTI on January 31)

The present Parliament first sat about 33 months ago at which time the 41 elected members and 31 senators took their respective oaths of office.

Among them are nine senators appointed appointed under Section 40 of the Constitution that allows the President "in his discretion" to appoint individuals "from outstanding persons from economic or social or community organizations and other major fields of endeavour". 
Current Independent Senators:
  1. James Armstrong
  2. Rolph Balgobin
  3. Corinne Baptiste-Knight
  4. Lennox Bernard
  5. Helen Drayton
  6. Elton Prescott
  7. Subhas Ramkhelawan
  8. Harold Ramkissoon
  9. Victor Wheeler
The presumption is that their appointment comes from an independent source (the President) and they are not part of any caucus, which means that they are not in receipt of a whip.

Section 43(2)(e) allows the President to revoke the appointments of any senator without showing just cause as these appointments do not carry any security of tenure. The same applies to the 16 government senators and the six appointed by the opposition.

Generally, when a new president takes office there is a brief time span between that event and the appointment of independent senators by the outgoing head of state.

In the present case it has been nearly three years and in fairness to the new president all nine Independents should offer their resignations. It would be up to the president to either reappoint them or name new candidates.

It is the prerogative of any incoming President to review the composition of the independent benches in the Senate as the Constitution makes provision for changes to be made at any time according to section 43(2)(e). 

The fact that it has not been done before does not mean that a more reliable convention cannot be established for future presidencies A period of 33 months will be the longest period of elapsed time between the assembling of a Parliament for its first sitting and the inauguration of a new President, which could provide the new President with the opportunity to do a mid-term review of the performance of the independent senators. 

Section 43(2)(e) of the Constitution allows the incoming President to make changes to the composition of the independent benches in the Senate after the inauguration ceremonies.

However, as a matter integrity, the current nine Independent Senators should offer their resignations on the assumption of office of a new president and not put the new President in a position whereby he would have to revoke their appointments.

Good governance practices should prevail to allow this to happen.

Jai Parasram

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai