We are living in devisive environment where the evils of mutibility and multiplicity are interfering with the well being of the Territory. We have an opportunity to make this period in our history the most creative period of constitutionalism in the British Virgin Islands. Our experience in constitutional development was driven by self-determination within the parameters laid down by outside forces. The people who constituted those forces never tasted the flavour of our lives or felt the texture of our relationships-key ingredients in our survival. Let us be careful that we are not taken for a ride instead of planning and executing our own ride. I see seeds of this being sown but we do have to nourish them to germinate. Nip them in the bud.
At this time we are looking at and thinking of a number of ideas which should be included in shaping a new framework for governance. We think about liberty and power, ideas of representation, the importance of justice,
developing unity in our diversity, the type of political institutions which will not disadvantage B. V. Islanders or subjugate them to undue inflences including oppressive authority. We need to drink fresh water from the springs of our heritage, generate new energy from the nutrients in that water, and measure each step as we advance in a more enlightened existence. The emancipation which we celebrated last week has its genesis in the Emancipation Act 1834. That document gave the 5,133 slaves a new status, a new landmark in their hetitage and the heritage of their descendants. Their pre-enslaved traditions were fragmented if not totally destroyed and the Act was the beginning of a new chapter in their heritage. These two elements tradition and documents constitute our claims to a piece of the rock. That claim has been revisited from time to time to make it relevant to the flux in which we are living.
We have a story of governance which changed titles along the way. Head of the Territory:
President to Commissioner to Administrator to Goverrnor all sent and appointed not elected.
The Legislative Council changed to House of Assembly. Was that just a euphemistic and cosmetic change? Executive Council to Cabinet. What is the effective and operational difference?
We face the challenges of balancing these three institutions to avoid autocratic behaviour which will stifle our growth and that of generations yet unborn. We are in the ptocess of creating a new, just, reasonable, and progressive constitution which does not hinder the progress of the people of the Territory but allows them to achieve optimum growth individually and collectively. We need to know what are the Territorial goals for the next ten years. How can you steer the ship without a compass? Once we know what we want to achieve, it would be much easier to chart our self-determination.