The latest episode with the government attempting to pass legislation without public discussion or input, is yet another apparent abuse of power by this government.
Had Civil Society not raised eternal hell the government proposed passing the Bill without public consultation.
Now that government has backed down, I submit their action is simply to calm the waters so to speak, and will process the Bill anyway in whatever form they wish.
As Sy Leon noted in his book None Of The Above; “Elected politicians, we are told, represent us. But this is nonsense, as any sane person can see. Where is the politician that represents you? Where is the politician that consults you and acts as you wish him to? Where is the politician that you can fire, or refuse to pay, if he does not render satisfactory service? Representation in the present system is a sham; it is nothing more than a front for political power.”
What makes this latest push by the government even more egregious is they are not even following their own Parliamentary process as they outlined at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting here in July 2016.
In their own newspaper supplement entitled “Modernisation: An Essential Element for the Independence of Parliament and the Deepening of Democracy,” they printed for all to see the process of how laws are made.
They confirmed as follows:
- Identifying Issues And Opportunities: Laws spring from the need to address issues and opportunities that already exist or might arise. Furthermore, laws may spring from the election promises of the governing party.
- Proposals for New Laws/Amendments: Proposals come from a variety of sources – government ministries and departments, non-governmental organisations, the Official Opposition or even individuals. These proposals for new laws can relate to issues across the Bahamian society and economy.
- Stakeholder Consultation: If a proposal for new legislation receives Cabinet approval, the next step involves consulting with experts, interest groups and the people of constituencies and islands likely to be affected by the plans. Often, in the case of very large issues of national impact, interested parties are asked to comment on a ‘green paper’, which gives an introductory outline of the idea. Following consultation, a ‘white paper’ might be produced, giving a more concrete statement of the government’s intentions.
- Proposals are Made Into ‘Bills’: Proposals for new laws are sent to the Office of the Attorney General (AG) where the lawyers there turn the instructions of the Cabinet into special forms called “Bills” (with) detailed language that reduces the chance that the intention of the bill may be misinterpreted. The major Bills reflect the policies the government intends to establish in a parliamentary session. They are usually announced in the Speech from the Throne at the opening of each new session (of Parliament).
If the usual approach is taken with this consultation, there will be no concessions by the government on the Spying Bill, not unlike other “consultations” regarding proposed legislation. One thing it will do though is prove the governments willingness to abuse the powers they’ve been granted by the electorate.
Isn’t it curious that the Spying Bill was complete before the process of consultation is to begin?
I dare say they will not hold themselves the same standard of the laws they force on citizens confirming George Orwell’s admonition that, in the mind of governing politician’s, some animals are more equal than others.