Monday, March 4, 2013

Constitution must address diversity, inclusiveness: CJ Archie

CJ Ivor Archie
Chief Justice Ivor Archie said on Saturday Trinidad and Tobago must use the opportunity for constitutional reform to leverage on the strength of the diversity of the people.

Archie delivered his message in an address at the launch of the National Consultation on Constitutional Reform at UWI, St Augustine. He said constitutional reform is one of the mechanisms that government can use to unify the Trinidad and Tobago.
"Quite independent of race or ethnicity, it may well address the desire for all-inclusiveness; there must be open, honest, restrained and respectful discourse," he said.

Archie said there are aspects of the existing constitution that arenot working satisfactorily, noting that this presents "an extraordinary opportunity to finally get it right". 

He added, "It should be a complete rewrite of the social contract that is to govern the way we and our institutions function. Maybe we should even revisit our watchwords. Are we to be content with mere tolerance? 

"After all, we can bring ourselves to tolerate that which we don't like. Maybe we need language that better expresses the idea of better embracing each other. We must decide whether we have a nation of many co-existing or one people with a diversity of cultural and historical linkages," he said.

"Our Constitution does not recognise rights based on ethnicity, gender, race, orientation or origin—only rights based on shared humanity. The answer to the 'who we are' question has an important impact on how we approach governance, which, after all, is what the Constitution is about. 

"We must grapple with this issue because that will determine the type of Constitution that emerges. If we have to build one people, then what do we do about hate speech? I shudder sometimes about what we hear over the airways. 

"Is it that freedom of expression is too precious to make hate speech unconstitutional? The building of a true meritocracy promotes efficiency and harmony and prevents chaos. That should be our focus," he said.

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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