Gail Merhair embarked on her senatorial journey by enlightening all as to which beacon would, throughout such odyssey, guide her:
Thus, one expected her forever to wield the Independent sword in her hand to smite any who ventured to assail the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Let continued examination of the Hansard reveal whether, since that solemn declaration, she has stayed true to her sworn course, or whether she had mutated into someone whose July 8th 2009 late night vote in support of the fourth postponement of Local Government Elections ought not to have surprised anyone at all.
Marvellous, for it paints a picture of a legislator whose heart is in the right place, ent? Moving on!
Bravo! Bravo! Very good! Well-said! If anything, that snippet tends powerfully to suggest otherwise to what actually Gail did on the night of July 8th 2009, ent?
Mr. President, I thank you."
She seemed there to be holding steady and true, ent? So! Again! Nothing there to hint that she would have wined her waist how she did, late that July 8th 2009 night, ent?
A blanket statement, regardless of context, therefore harbingering of an entirely different course of action to the one she took that late July 8th 2009 night, ent?
When I read this Bill...several immediate objections were raised in my mind. At the end of examining the issue, I must state that I cannot support this legislation as a matter of principle. It took my mind back to something said by John Stuart Mill and that is: “The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity, the ascendant power among mankind.” Hon. Senators, this Bill is a reflection of mediocrity throughout and should not be tolerated. Enough, sometimes they say, is enough!
The Bill seeks to amend the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago Act, Chapter 39:06 to extend the transitional period from four years to five years and to allow for provisional registration. As far as I am concerned, four years since the passage of this Act and the ongoing training seminars that were conducted by the Accreditation Council and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education is more than enough time to have this system formalized and institutionalized, as intended. If schools and institutions are still in need of more time to have themselves registered and accredited, then, they have no business in providing tertiary education for the youths and citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.
This matter has a long-standing history. There have been several attempts over the past 34 years or so, to establish a system for the recognition of institutions of higher education in Trinidad and Tobago for the accreditation of programmes.
...All that set aside, the Government must be commended for pursuing the issue with some vigour once again. I state categorically that I am against any additional period being added for the purpose of this transition to accreditation. Even with a conservative estimate, it is my understanding that the Accreditation Council, together with the Ministry of Education, has been working assiduously over the last two years to move the process along. If after all this time, some schools have not been brought up to standard, then, with all due respect to this honourable Senate, they should be closed down. This Bill can be seen as an attempt to allow delinquent institutions to dictate the pace of progress and development. This must not be allowed to happen. Why is it so hard for some of these institutions to come up to scratch?
...Our local institutions have had four years to come up to scratch. I see no need for any additional time. This will lead to the perpetuation of mediocrity. If they do not come up to scratch, I think that they should be closed down..."
And, as the saying goes, "What's good for the goose is good for the gander!" So, change the words "Accreditation Council" to "County/City Council" and her line of reasoning would still be applicable. Hence, again, nothing there to suggest that Gail would have wailed down the place as she did late that July 8th 2009 night, ent?
...my contribution...is an opportunity to provide my recommendations...solely...as an alternative as to what was offered by the Minister...in the other place...and to be accepted or criticized within the same spirit..."
Rightoh! Again, the determined focus on seeing after the people's business and of using her platform to develop and present a voice independent of what is parroted by government senators, ent?
That utterance speaks volumes, so, to it, nothing more need be added.
Which is how Senators, especially Independent Senators, are supposed to be guided, ent?
This Bill causes too many questions than answers. To me, it is not only bureaucratic, but in terms of accountability and transparency there is none. There is none! We cannot give persons, through legislation, to just handle the free flow of Trinidad and Tobago, and it will be in the best interest of the hon. Minister...not to bind himself into all this type of responsibility. The Minister is responsible for appointing, reviewing the terms and conditions, ...and revoking appointments. In all honesty, I really do not think—with the importance of the...sector in Trinidad and Tobago—the Hon. Minister of Health has time to do this. There is no time. There are more important matters that the Minister...needs to attend to in the interest of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. I think this Bill in its present form, I honestly cannot stand here and support it.
I think it is too much; we are trying to do too many things with this legislation. I am looking at the Bill and I am seeing three or four pieces of legislation coming out of it, so probably we need to take it back to the drawing board, put a joint select committee, something to make the legislation more in tune to the needs of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. It is too much and there is too much parallel, and I think if we really care about the people of Trinidad and Tobago—and I know that you do, hon. Minister as well as other people in this Parliament—then we should get it right, do it right in the interest of the people of Trinidad and Tobago, because this Bill in its present form is a greater injustice to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
Mr. President, I thank you."
Now! If THAt doesn't suggest a Gail naysaying of further postponement of Local Government Elections, what does?
Then this, to take the cake:
The results were derived from considerations over 2006—2008 of the following points, among others:
- Local government reform process that is moving more in the direction of centralization rather than decentralization, reduced autonomy and funding for local government authorities; three-times postponement of local government elections;”
...So, the question begs, what is the purpose of all this effort of local government (reform) when, in fact, what we are doing is moving away from a decentralized system to a centralized system? It is rather contradictory. The local regional authorities should be left with the opportunity to give final approval in their respective areas. I think that the local corporations must be allowed to demonstrate to citizens within their bodies what is happening and what is meant by achieving continuous improvement for their areas. I think the process is so designed.
...I think what should have happened in this instance is that the Government should have brought legislation to strengthen the powers of the Auditor General’s Department, and to let the public know whether the best value for money is being achieved. This should be done in areas where we need to get best value for our money that is being spent. We need to have a body to inspect what is happening with the citizens’ money. The Government needs to see how well the policies are working on the ground. We also need to identify the areas that we are failing in and take the necessary action, and we need to get best practice and policies in place.
...I think that the answer to our problems is to bring all public officials into account in terms of transparency, accountability; get the system right; make the system work, and not transfer the problem from one area to another..."
There may have been some comments overlooked, but, given the above, what further proof does one need reasonably to conclude that, in the run-up to her late July 8th 2009 vote, Senator Gail Merhair was utterly opposed to any extension of the life of the Local Government bodies except as a result of free and fair and long-overdue elections? It's clear, then, that, despite her protestations to the contrary, some intoxicatingly-irresistible inducement indeed was given her to make her vote the way she did --as a member of the chorus.
That's all, for now!