Editorial: Fingers crossed!

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The best news related to the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) is that the Political Leader of the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) Harold Lovell has agreed to face-off against Prime Minister Gaston Browne in a public debate.  We are not even going to try to hide our excitement that such an event could actually happen.
For too long, the public has had been force fed a diet of political finger-pointing that has been anything but satisfying.  Each side and its various personalities has had scant regard for the fact that they are talking about our nation’s passport and the integrity of that document.  Instead, the matter has been tossed around as a political football that resulted in an ‘own goal’ which saw us penalized with the revocation of our Canadian visa-free travel status.
Now it is time for the people to get what they deserve — hard answers.  Free of party rhetoric and the pure propaganda that is never substantiated with documents.  For either side to pull out of the event, which they initiated and hyped, would be a slap in the face of the voters of this nation.  It is now time to ‘put-up or shut-up’!
If we could be so bold, we would like to suggest that the event follow many of the established norms associated with political debates.  We would like to touch on just a few.  First, it should be held in a neutral public place where the media and spectators can attend.  Secondly, it should be moderated by someone that can mediate with professionalism and demonstrate impartiality.  It would be near impossible to find an “independent” mediator since everyone in this country has, or has been given, a political label.  (By the way, that is a situation created by politicians to easily discredit any source of criticism.)
There are many professional mediators in the court system that can do an admirable job of ensuring that the debaters adhere to the house rules.  We suggest that the two gentlemen agree on one of these professionals and we get a date settled as soon as possible.
We also believe that the topics should be agreed in advance because the last thing that anyone wants is for the politicians to have the excuse that they were unprepared.  Neither should be given that easy out.  Finally, we want facts.  No speculation or any such nonsense.  If the Prime Minister or Senator Lovell cites numbers or correspondence then we want a copy of the document so that we can share it with everyone.
We have already heard that Lovell wants the debate to touch on a wider range of issues than just the CIP but he should not let that request (if it is denied) sideline this epic matchup.  In explaining his position, he said, “My views and those of my party on the management of the CIP are already widely known. We do not believe there is merit, therefore, to restricting the discussion to the programme which, now, is already in difficulty, owing to the government’s reckless actions. What is needed at this time is a comprehensive mid-term debate that focuses on the range of important issues currently affecting the nation.”
We beg to differ and agree. We differ with the notion that there is no merit in debating the CIP programme alone. This is a huge issue and worthy of a debate on its own.  It is doubtful anyone will agree to a debate beyond two to three hours and that is hardly enough time to adequately debate something that has such huge potential (and existing) ramifications for the people of this country.
Where we agree, is with the need for greater debate among the parties; away from the formal confines of Parliament.  There is a litany of issues that would benefit from strong public debate by the politicians.
Lovell threw out his own debate challenge by stating, “I further invite Asot Michael, as Minister of Tourism, our most important sector, to debate me on the management of that sector, in The [Snake] Pit, at a mutually agreeable time, under conditions which I will agree upon with the OBSERVER Group.”  For the record, we will be willing to host this debate in a heartbeat.  Just let us know the date and time.  Serpent is welcoming of all who come, so we know that he would make room for this showdown at the drop of a hat.  Also, for the record, do not let the studios of OBSERVER be the hold-up for this event to happen.  If the Minister of Tourism feels that he would be more comfortable if the event was hosted elsewhere then, by all means, host it elsewhere if that would make it happen.  All we want is a ringside seat.
The hype is growing and the trash talking has already begun. Browne versus Lovell has become a must-happen, must-see event.  And if it lives up to the pre-fight excitement then this will be THE event of 2017.  The promise of this uber-event has been made; let us all keep our fingers crossed that it will be kept.

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