Former Attorney General, Garvin Nicholas, is predicting that the 2020 General Election season will be one of the nastiest this country has seen.
The former AG observes that globally, there seems to be a change in the tenor of the conduct of politics, and here in T&T, we are mirroring that trend.
He says we got an inkling of what’s to come in the recent Local Government Elections.
And he believes the recent Cabinet reshuffle clearly demonstrates that ‘old school’ politics will continue to dominate the local landscape.
“It’s going to be an attempt to give handouts, which is essentially to bribe the population in a short term kind of ‘mamaguy-ism’ way, that we continue to present in our politics,” he observes. “As opposed to creating long term, sustainable plans that will, in fact, allow a nation and a people to grow.”
Garvin Nicholas argues that those entrusted with governing Trinidad and Tobago need to re-orient their priorities—focussing on what will ensure the best quality of life and standard of living for citizens in this country.
“For example, you would want to have an economy that works, so you would diversify the economy to ensure that more revenue comes in to Trinidad and Tobago in 2020 and beyond,” he states. “With a shrinking economy, it is more difficult for people to live in T&T. There are massive layoffs. You don’t have access to foreign exchange, whether as a private citizen or businessman. Young people graduating from university and high school, and even the small businessman don’t see opportunities for growth and development in the economy.”
He adds that citizens’ security and safety are also important priority areas.
“You don’t want to be in a maxi taxi in Port of Spain and have somebody spray the maxi taxi with bullets and run amok. You want to be able to use community and public spaces for recreation and sport without the fear of being hit by a stray bullet.”
Marijuana: legalise vs decriminalise
Garvin Nicholas is on record as supporting the legalisation of marijuana in this country, and underscores the point that the drug has not been legalised, in the truest sense of the term.
He points out that legalisation would have ensured a comprehensive policy governing the quality of marijuana available, its marketing, and taxation on sales; as well as the setting up of education and health systems to help citizens use the drug responsibly.
“Like alcohol, you don’t want to be putting people in prison for the use of it, but you also want to regulate the use of it,” he explains, “because the overuse of it will always be detrimental to the human being. One has to create a balance between protecting people from themselves and also criminalising them. That is why the legal framework to regulate this is so important.”
And even though he believes the decriminalisation model used by government isn’t perfect, Garvin Nicholas notes we have still made a big step in this regard.
“I think it is good that persons don’t have to run from the police to smoke a joint, or that people are not going to be incarcerated for smoking a joint. But at the same time,” he says, “I’m not going to encourage people to go out there and smoke marijuana or any other illicit drug—or any legal drug—that could be detrimental to the human person.”
Garvin Nicholas does not believe there will be a huge rush to use the drug, given that marijuana usage has been widespread in this country for many years, long before the recent legislative changes.
He notes that those who wanted to smoke marijuana always had access to it, and the new laws won’t impact their behaviour.
However, he does expect a tiny usage spike from the curious, before usage levels off.
Story by JESSIE-MAY VENTOUR