Former District Seven Representative Dr Kedrick Pickering has said two successive governments — one of which he was a member — dropped the ball in educating people on the way forward and implementing change after the 2007 constitutional review.
Speaking at his campaign launch for the next general election, Dr Pickering spoke candidly on the territory’s relationships with the United Kingdom and claimed there needs to be a reset. He noted the relationship with the UK matters and there is no sense in people denying that as the Virgin Islands
is fundamentally British until something is done about it.
“Let us deal with the realities of the way in which we have to approach these situations and not tell ourselves that we are not what we are not. So, pay attention and elect people when the election comes around and understand those types of relationships so that the next constitutional review will take us forward,” Dr Pickering said.
The former legislator then explained that after the 2007 constitutional review, things did not go as planned and the governments that came after made a grave error in not following through with the things discussed in the negotiation with the United Kingdom.
“We dropped the ball after the 2007 constitution review. I was a member of a committee who went to England to negotiate the new constitution. There were several things that needed to be done after that event took place and successive governments, one of which I was a part of, dropped the ball. We were supposed to have a referendum to decide the way forward. We were supposed to put a committee in place to discuss with the population, their views, and opinions on moving forward, but also to help educate people in understanding the cost of moving forward towards independence and self-governance – whichever term you want to use,” Dr Pickering said.
“We were supposed to have a change in the number of ministers that we have. We were supposed to have six ministers, but we were supposed to pass legislation in the House that would have given us the right to do that. And there were a number of other issues. So, we are now at a point where we are talking about our constitutional review committee. It should have been done from way back between 2007 and 2011 and we should have been at the point right now, where we could actually be staring in the face of self-governance,” he added.
Dr Pickering also explained that self-governance does not mean the BVI must sever ties completely with the United Kingdom. He drew a comparison with a small-island nation in the Pacific called Tuvalu. He said the country has a relationship with New Zealand where New Zealand takes care of its military and defence, but the country is semi-independent and determines everything else for itself.
“And the United Nations have said that countries like ours should look to examples like that to help determine the way forward. We don’t have to do that. But we can utilise those examples. And think of a special way that we could develop new relationships with the United Kingdom that doesn’t exist, but it will take us utilising our best minds, and there are a lot of highly intelligent, well-educated younger people in this country with brilliant ideas,” Dr Pickering said.
He added: “We just need to incorporate their ideas for the betterment of our country. And in the not-too-distant future, we would have a relationship with the United Kingdom that even independent countries will be envious of because we can find ways to make it work that are beneficial to us and them and it will be better for our people. So, we need to think out of the box to find a new way to build that relationship. But the important thing is, that relationship matters. And the way we are going to move forward is to ensure we reset our thinking towards our relationship with them,” the former legislator added.