Friday, August 31, 2012

History of self-government in the Caribbean

T&T President George M. Richards
Big parties in Port-of-Spain tonight --and in parts of Toronto that are Trini to the bone. Today is the fiftieth anniversary of independence for Trinidad and Tobago, which joins Jamaica's similar anniversary earlier this month of becoming fully self-governing nations within the Commonwealth of Nations. Congratulations to them both.

Trinidad, a parliamentary democracy with a bicameral legislature, ended its ties with the British monarchy through a constitutional reform in 1976.  Its head of government is a prime minister. Its head of state, with a constitutional role generally equivalent to that of a Canadian governor-general, is a Trinidadian elected to a five-year renewable term as president by an electoral college consisting of all members of both houses of the Trinidad and Tobago parliament.

Jamaica remains a constitutional monarchy for the present, but this year has been considering making the change that Trinidad made in 1976. It does not seem to have been particularly difficult or disruptive for Trinidad to have chosen to have its own head of state, and it surely would not be for Jamaica ... or Canada.  It's just a matter of deciding.
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