The Constitutional Amendment Bill brought to Parliament in the middle of the election is not sitting well with Attorney-at-Law, Deborah Moore-Miggins. Passionately expressing her views on the matter during an exclusive interview with Tobago News, Moore – Miggins in her capacity as Attorney at Law expressed her disapproval to both the timing and content of the Bill. “This bill is the most retrograde, unfair, unconstitutional measure ever being brought to the Parliament. People of Tobago need to analyse the Bill in its deceptive nature,” the prominent Attorney noted.
She went on to say that the Bill “was done without proper consultation with most Tobagonians.” The former minority leader pointed out that even after the Hamid Ghanny committee completed its report, based on consultations on the Green Paper, no report was provided for further review by Tobagonians as promised.
Moore – Miggins identified three points that are of particular interest to Tobagonians when considering the Constitutional Amendment Bill. Firstly, she believes the time for internal self government has gone. Tobago, she stressed, would commit the biggest error should they accept what is provided on the Bill. She believes a recommendation for a federal structure with Trinidad may be more accommodating at this time.
Secondly, she is concerned that it defines Tobago with an eleven-mile limit but is silent on a definition of Trinidad. This, she argued, means Tobago would only have jurisdiction and economic viability over the eleven miles.
The third point she raised was the timing of the Bill is ‘outrageous and meant to deceive’. She went on to say that although not the best, the current THA Bill is better than the Bill being proposed now. The trickery, she said, lies in the Tobago List, Concurrent List and the National List.
Moore-Miggins expressed disgust that the Concurrent list which has the items under which Tobago can make laws, is null and void since the overriding clause states that Tobago can make laws on these items providing that they are not governed by existing laws. She noted that almost every item is covered by law in Trinidad and Tobago and therefore liberty to make laws technically doesn’t exist. “Parliament can enact laws on anything and there is an existing law for everything.” Miggins noted.
Further to this, it was observed that certain responsibilities that currently lie with the THA under the fifth schedule and others as laid out in the Tobago list were removed and placed on the concurrent list. She made specific reference to Customs and Excise, State enterprises; CSO, Airports and Wharves, Air and Sea Transport are all now part of the Concurrent List. She believes the laws that already govern these areas will supersede the concurrent list and by and large Tobago’s opportunity to make laws is in fact null and void especially in the areas that matter.
It should be noted also that the proposed Bill is not a final representation of Tobago’s interest since there has been so many changes since after the first consultation.
See believes the opposition and all independents should not vote for the Bill and the drafter of the THA Bill Russell Martineau should be called upon to identify exactly what the Bill is giving as well as not giving. She is also of the view that Independent senators must consult with Tobagonians in a meaningful way, adding that their decision to vote for or against the Bill should be an informed one.