By Arley Gill
The Prime Minister of Grenada introduced and gave birth to what he referred to as, “Project Grenada.’’ From what I understood him to mean, it is a call to “arms”, so to speak; an appeal for Grenadians at home and abroad to join hands to build their country. Since then, Dr Mitchell has invited — and some persons have accepted — the invitation to join him in that effort.
Some Grenadians — pursuant to their right — have taken issue with the concept of “Project Grenada’’. They argue that it is a vague attempt to institute a one-party state, and that those who have answered the PM’s call, have only done so for political expediency and opportunism.
The argument of a one-party state is merely fanciful and nonsensical, since the constitution provides — as a fundamental right — the Right of Association; and, if anything, the pending constitutional reform is not geared towards reducing this right. If, anything, these rights are to be strengthened. What is required are strong, functional political parties with mature, responsible and visionary political leadership so that Grenadians can have a reasonable and fair choice.
Grenadians have demonstrated clearly on two occasions that if, collectively, they are of the considered view that only one party is making sense, they will give all the parliamentary seats to that one party. In this regard, while I am not an ardent opponent of term limits, I believe term limits do deny the electorate persons of their choice whom they wish to be their parliamentary representatives. Indeed, the American system is the most prominent democracy with such a limit. For those systems patterned on the Westminster model, there is no limit and it has worked for us.
In some countries, persons have won more than two consecutive elections and have done well for their countries. Most times, they have won consecutively not because of ‘stealing or fraudulent elections’, but because it is the people’s choice — pure and simple! And people must be respected for that.
So I am certain that Grenada will not be a one-party state once our constitution remains intact and 1979 is not revisited. Politicians must do their work, make themselves and their party attractive to the electorate, and play within the rules to be elected. With regards to political opportunism, that in itself is not a bad thing. Indeed, politics is so much about opportunity.
Party politics in the Westminster system is essentially opportunity to serve. As such, if one is of the view that he is best able to serve with a certain group of people, then he is so entitled to make that decision. Now if one is expelled from the association of certain persons, is it wrong or sinful to join another association of persons if accepted by them? What are we saying on an island of limited human resource that persons who — once disagreed — could or should never work together? There can be no reconciliation, forgiveness and unity? Personal agendas apart, what distinguishes our political parties? Policies, isn’t it? Those policies, are they so different?
So many times parties in opposition object to the government’s policy; and, when they get into government they do the same thing. They may disagree on how it should be implemented but in substance, the policy is the same. The economic citizenship programme is a case in point. It is for these reasons, I proffer that Project Grenada is the way forward.
Project Grenada, for me, is not and must not be political; it is ‘a-political’. It goes far beyond politics and politicians. To me, it speaks to us as a people, for instance, being our neighbour’s keepers; so that we assist the police officers in the community, who are policing and actively assist in preventing and solving of crimes in our neighbourhoods.
Project Grenada speaks to us a people being conscious of our environment so that we refuse to litter and encourage others not to litter by throwing KFC boxes and barbecue foil paper on the ground. It speaks to us assisting and being helpful to our visitors, appreciating their value to our economy. It speaks to public servants getting to work on time and producing a fair day’s work and leaving at five minutes past 4 — not five minutes to 4.
It speaks to our musicians and singers making the best music and songs they can make with the best quality available to them. It is about us – in whatever field of endeavour — doing our best for our country.
The Prime Minister, as leader of the country, must continue to articulate and promote that vision. In fact, I will appeal to him to abandon the traditional independence speech and, instead, deliver a concept paper on Project Grenada. Let the debate continue. Let the controversy rage by those who disagree. There is such a thing as good controversy, in my view. Let one’s passion and emotion for country come to the fore.
In my opinion, no one bothers with these clichéd themes that are announced by the National Celebrations’ Committee year after year. For my part I only give in to them when I am mentally wary. This year’s theme for independence should be about Project Grenada. And, I submit, that next year’s theme should be, “Project Grenada: The Mission Continues’’.
Let us be brave, bold and more assertive about our country.
As we get ready to commemorate another year of our independence, let us give more life to Project Grenada.