Senator Ms. Jearlean John; M.P. for Couva South, Mr. Rudranath Indarsingh and M.P. for Chaguanas West, Mr. Dinesh Rambally, were all members of the Joint Select Committee appointed to consider and report on the Constitution (Amendment) (Tobago Self-Government) Bill, 2020. These members issued a Minority Report which dissented from the principal report for a number of reasons.
These three members all felt that the JSC’s deliberations should have been informed by genuine and extensive consultations with Tobagonians and Trinidadians and that these consultations should have been conducted in a most timely manner and with a very wide reach of persons. In the alternative, the deadline for consultations should have been extended as the data on the consultation process showed that participation was abysmal.
These views were expressly conveyed to the JSC via two letters which also asked that the deficiency in consultations be immediately addressed. Many prominent Tobagonians and Tobago politicians (including one sitting in the JSC itself) also echoed similar concerns.
At the end, due to the JSC’s determination to meet its deadline regardless of the poor consultation process, it decided to go ahead and prepare its main report anyway, while still further asking for comments from the public to be sent for consideration at some later stage, after its report was laid!
Members John, Indarsingh and Rambally found the lack of proper consultations to be disrespectful, and detrimental to understanding the true will of the people of Tobago. As such it issued its Minority Report citing the legal basis for the duty to consult, especially given the very delicate nature of the Bill in question. It also cited the dissenting views of major stakeholders which further bolstered the position that the consultations were a farce.
For these reasons, the JSC’s main report could not be supported.