It was noted in the media that on Monday, July 15th, 2019, the US, UK, and EU issued a statement calling for compliance with the CCJ ruling and constitution. The media highlighted that Canada was not a signatory of the statement.
This was a missed opportunity for Canada. It should use the media to have an impact where its voice has sway. Instead, the Prime Minister of Canada was commenting on rhetoric in the US, which involved the US President and a small group from the Democrats, the opposition party. The US political system is very sophisticated with many checks and balances. Their political system works better than most countries in resolving intra-country issues. The US has already taken action regarding the rhetoric.
Canada is one tenth the size of the US in population and much smaller in terms of economic size. It is doubtful what effect the Canadian Prime Minister’s statements had on the US actions. However, Canada is magnitudes larger than Guyana both in population and in wealth. Guyana does not have all the checks and balances in its system like the US. The current Guyanese President wields much more power over his citizens compared to the incumbent US president. A comment from the Canadian Prime Minister with regard to the CCJ ruling and constitution would carry great weight as Guyana’s constitutional issues affect every citizen.
I inquired with the Canada’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Ms. Chatterjee, why Canada did not issue a statement on July 15th. She indicated that Canada did issue a statement on June 18th, which stated, “The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has ruled and it is important that all sides respect that ruling. We also encourage all to come to an agreement on the way forward.” She indicated that Canada still stands by that statement. She further mentioned that Canada believed it was more effective to make its views known bilaterally rather than through the media. But I find this inconsistent, the Canadian Prime Minister was using the media to comment on local US rhetoric. Ms. Chatterjee uses Twitter frequently in her role as High Commissioner to give visibility on topics relevant to her role. But I couldn’t find a tweet with regard to the June 18th statement. Optics do matter and this doesn’t convey the right message.
Canada is similar to Guyana, given it has also been blessed with tremendous resources. It has used its wealth to create a Health Care System that is the envy of many developed nations. It has fostered an educational system that generates breakthrough technological ideas like those behind self-driving cars and automated language translations. As Guyana emerges on the world energy stage, there is tremendous guidance that Canada can offer to Guyana in avoiding the resource curse. We don’t want Guyana to go down the path like Venezuela where the political elites have mansions abroad while the general public starves. Canada needs to be more public in calling for compliance with the CCJ decision and constitutional matters.
Darshanand Khusial, Ontario, Canada
On behalf of OGGN
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