"I urge members of this Parliament to rise up to the highest height of statesmanship"
By Julian H. Johnson
Conclusion of presentation by Julian N. Johnson to the Dominica Business Forum Consultation on Electoral Reform in the Commonwealth Of Dominica – "Political Party and Election Campaign Finance and Independent Electoral Commission" - (Thursday 3rd August 2023)
Mr. Chairman, as I end this presentation, I am fully aware that what I am about to say is being addressed to a Parliament of Dominica whose oversight powers have been fractured by an over-mighty Executive.
This result was outrageously achieved during two decades of partial and partisan overlordship which eroded the Westminster conventions and the codified rules enacted in the Standing Orders of the House of Assembly, Chapter 1:01 of the Laws of Dominica 2017 Revised Edition. "Imputing Improper Motives" rulings were dished out with mighty rage and fury as impunity and continuity were assured. Written "Questions to Ministers" from elected members of the House of Assembly were severely amended, willy-nilly or disallowed!
And so, Mr. Chairman in these dark days and darker nights Dominica's representative democracy requires a sovereign charismatic champion. I turn to you the 11th Parliament of Dominica under the independence constitution of 1978 with this earnest but empathetic appeal. I urge members of this Parliament to rise up to the highest height of statesmanship and to deliberate and deliver to the people of Dominica in their desperate hour of need the good practice electoral reform legislation. These modern draft Bills have emerged from wide consultations and contributions from the many Dominican stakeholders who laboured freely for this electoral reform project. These Bills are informed by the Jamaica Representative of the People Act 2016 and other Commonwealth precedents with which I am familiar.
Mr. Chairman, I am of opinion that the provisions dealing with political finance regulation (general political party and election campaign finance) and the regime to strengthen the independence of the Electoral Commission meet "the international best practices on electoral reform" called for by the Hon. Prime Minister of Dominica, Dr. Roosevelt Skerrit on the 4th day of October 2020 on his ANNOU PARLE programme on the DBS radio and television.
In my view these draft bills substantially satisfy Dominica's treaty obligations under Article 7(3) of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), the Inter-American Democratic Charter adopted on the 11th September 2001 and of the Commonwealth Anti-Corruption Benchmarks: Benchmark 9 – Political Regulation published in April 2021 by the Secretariat under the leadership of the Rt. Hon. Baroness Patricia Scotland KC, Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations. Mr. Chairman, there is much more to say; but, I must go.
My time is up. I thank you.