In the past week, the United Progressive Party (UPP) has voiced its strong opposition to imminent knighthood for Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin, whose nomination emerged ahead of the Independence Day celebrations on November 1.
The nomination was put forward by supporters within the St. John’s City South constituency, with over 50 signatories on a petition in a letter submitted to the national honors committee.
Despite the UPP’s reservations, the nomination garnered majority support and received the official endorsement of Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
Leon Chaku Symister, a legal representative for the party, has maintained that Benjamin is unworthy of such an honour.
He contended that, “having sight of how that letter was crafted and seeing and knowing some of the signatories, you can bet your bottom dollar that they were simply asked to sign.”
In light of their concerns, Symister emphasized that the composition of the honours committee is an aspect the party would like to alter.
Currently consisting of a Chairperson, Government Senators Mary Clare Hurst and Samantha Marshall, Minister of Information Melford Nicholas, Minority senator Shawn Nicholas, and UPP leader Jamale Pringle, the committee’s makeup is not aligned with the UPP’s inclusive philosophy.
“That committee, according to the law should have four members of the house and four senators. I think right away a UPP government would want to change that consistent with its philosophy of being inclusive and have as wide as possible representation on such matters,” he said.
Symister highlighted that during their previous tenure in power, the UPP faced numerous challenges, addressing issues in order of priority and losing approximately two years due to a protracted court case that left the nation in limbo.
He mentioned their alteration of the electoral commission, including clergy members, to ensure a more balanced representation.
Furthermore, Symister pointed out that “there is sufficient information so that the general public knows that they could nominate someone for an award.”