Whatever happened to policy prescriptions from politicos?
On Thursday past the latest missive from Mr. Pierre Dupuch arrived in my email inbox. This one is entitled ‘Gerrymandering districts and questionable citizenships’ and accuses Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette and the Free National Movement (FNM) government of granting citizenship to Haitian nationals for the express purpose of helping them get re-elected and changing the constituency borders to suit the governing party.
On first read, one is inclined to dismiss the release out of hand. But it is so derisive and void of any meaningful policy prescriptions to fix these ills — that Mr. Dupuch himself suggests have been around for generations — it seems appropriate to ask for more from the former MP. (He reminds us of when former Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling and the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) used to gerrymander the boundaries and grant citizenship the same way.) Of course he does not mention that former Prime Minister Perry Christie and the PLP of 2002-2007 did the same thing.
Mr. Dupuch does make one policy prescription though — grant permanent residency to foreigners instead of citizenship. But surely a government must consider more than raw emotionalism when determining these matters?
Here are a few questions in relation to boundary changes for Mr. Dupuch:
1. What would you do to improve the formation/selection of boundaries?
2. Other than what is constitutionally mandated would you put the formula into law or leave it to discretion?
3. Would you make the review committee independent or leave it the way it is? The FNM tried to do so with the defeated constitutional changes they attempted and the PLP had a committee recommend the same thing, yet nothing was done.
4. Justice Stephen Isaacs was quoted in the press as saying the process was fair. Should we dismiss this?
How about matters relating to citizenship?
1. How should a Bahamian government handle expatriates (expats)?
2. Is there a place for granting expats status in the first place?
3. Should we close our borders to immigration?
4. Do we limit the numbers each year to a set amount?
5. What do we do about those people that have lived and worked here for generations in some cases?
There must be numerous other questions or ideas out there that deserve consideration, but for today’s politicos — as well as some of yesterday’s — it seems easier to try to inflame the electorate rather than discuss and offer reasonable policy prescriptions to resolve these matters that are used to cause dissension, election year after election year.