His Honour the Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly attended the 42nd Regional Conference of the Caribbean, the Americas and the Atlantic Region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association held in Basseterre, St. Christopher from the 16th to the 24th June, 2017.
The official opening was on Monday, June 19th, 2017 where a number of Speakers and other Parliamentarians from the region were in attendance. The Governor General H.E. Sir S.W. Tapley Seaton and Deputy Prime Minister of St. Kitts, the Premier and Deputy Premier of St. Nevis was also in attendance.
The Regional Conference resumes as its Annual General Meeting convenes every year with the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians who assembled from June 16th, 2017 for their 11th Annual Meeting and conference, their theme: “Next Steps in Strategizing for Women’s Leadership in the Caribbean Political Space”. This speaks to the preparation, training and involvement in front line Politics for women and how the Region and Commonwealth can assist in giving women the leverage to be able to access the Political Barriers that normally hinder women from ascending to top positions within Party Politics and plateauing to senior positions or given the opportunity to canvas to run for political office, hence gender being diminished.
The Conference theme sessions narrative was geared towards addressing the importance of engendering positive perceptions of Parliaments and Parliamentarians. The negative and positive effects the Media forged in enhancing Parliamentary democracy.
The underlying factors that presently exist and the perception in the wider Caribbean, is that Parliaments are exclusive, isolated and discreet when it comes to the involvement and dissemination of information to the Public, while the Parliamentarians are corrupt, selfish and don’t live up to their word or promises.
Public Education by Parliaments and Parliamentarians have to do a better job by connecting with their constituents, and the public wanting to hear the local issues being addressed because their perception is that Parliaments come off as a rubber-stamp rather than addressing the authentic needs of the people, and the people not understanding how Parliaments processes work.
The role of the media can be an asset to be involved in the process by providing the conduit for public education. However, Social Media and other media outlets can also be seen as references of doom and gloom because information coming to the public from Parliaments and Parliamentarians are of an obscured and ill-reporting nature, has caused our Politicians and Parliaments to be seen in a most negative light.
The Turks and Caicos Islands has been viewed in a positive light because of the many organizational systems such as, the Integrity Commission, Complaints Commission, Auditor General’s Office and their play to insure good governance, not discounting other aspects of our Parliamentary democratic systems; The Appropriation Committee, Public Accounts Committee and many other standing committees that create the checks and balances for other Statutory bodies, breathes a breath of fresh air for the Turks and Caicos Islands and our approach to allowing these procedures and practices to be in the viewing and hearing of the public by various Media Houses for scrutiny and transparency.
What was most significant and inviting, the highlight of Turks and Caicos Islands was seen and used as a model for other democracies in the region to emulate, regarding the vast involvement and inclusion of women parliamentarians and the recent election of the first woman Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands regarding the mature democratic approach to include women in leadership roles and capacities.
The Turks and Caicos Islands was well represented as His Honour the Speaker was one of the presenters at the same regional conference on the topic, “Enhancing Caribbean Parliamentary Democracy via public and media participation”. Other presenters on the same topic were, Hon. Dr. Dhanayshar Mahabir of Trinidad and Tobago and Hon. Randy Horton (Speaker) of Bermuda.
Turks and Caicos Islands was also nominated as a member of the Regional Executive Committee which joins in the executive decision making for the region on Parliamentary Matters.
The Delegation attending the 42nd Regional Conference:
· Hon. Dwayne S. Taylor, MHA – Speaker
· Hon. Derek Taylor, OBE, JP, MHA
· Hon. Porsha Stubbs-Smith, MHA
· Mrs. Tracey I. Parker – Clerk to the House of Assembly