“To suspend a constitution, fundamentally goes against the principles that I believe in and that even the United Kingdom espouses throughout the world,” Dr Wheatley stated on the Honestly Speaking radio show earlier this week.
Dr Wheatley was at the time discussing his position in relation to the Commission of Inquiry’s (COI) recommendation for United Kingdom-appointed Governor John Rankin to take over governance in the BVI for at least two years and for the partial suspension of the territory’s constitution.
The Premier argued that there will always be issues regarding the way in which a democracy looks. He said some of these issues has to do with the culture of a group of people.
“Your democracy might look a little different from somebody else’s democracy,” the Premier offered. “Not because it’s different means it’s wrong.”
According to Dr Wheatley, there are specific areas that can be debated about how the BVI‘s democracy looks, but this has to do primarily with the will of the people.
“This is why we are asserting very strongly – and I’m hopeful that everyone in the Virgin Islands reinforces this message – that we cannot do anything outside of a democratic framework,” Dr Wheatley added.
He continued: “We can’t have any persons who are appointed not through the will of the people making decisions on behalf of people.”
Meanwhile, the Premier noted that although an ideal democracy can ensure that the will and the voices of the people are heard, this did not mean that democracy always functions well.
“Democracy is one of the things I truly believe in in this world, I do not believe in any form of dictatorship,” he stated.
But Dr Wheatley argued that the territory has to develop the necessary systems that would help democracy to function well and suggested one of those tenets was free expression, particularly within the media.
The territory’s leader argued that this was yet another important tenet of a democratic society and said the media essentially allows for the exchange of ideas and the dissemination of information for debate to take place.
“We have so many challenges in democracy as it pertains to misinformation and those are things we have to tackle as a community. We have to have a love of the truth in our community, we have to love the truth,” the Premier said.
He further noted that there is also a need for a level of maturity in the society that allows for this type of debate and also for a diversion of opinions, views and perspectives.