Camillo Gonsalves takes oaths as he is sworn in as Minister of Foreign Affairs. (IWN photo)
Camillo Gonsalves takes oaths as he is sworn in as Minister of Foreign Affairs. (IWN photo)

This country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sen. Camillo Gonsalves, has expressed displeasure with the Oath of Office that the country’s parliamentarians take.

He noted to Parliament on Thursday that it is a legal, rather than constitutional requirement, and suggested that it be changed.

“And since we are the body that makes the laws, hopefully in the very near future, we can make an oath more fitting to our current context and our service to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he told legislators.

Gonsalves’ comments came as he made his maiden address to Parliament.

He cited an essay in which German sociologist Max Weber argues that politics is the art of compromise.

‘But each and everyone of us, somewhat unfortunately, is taught that lesson on day one of our entry into this Parliament because we become compromised in being asked to swear an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty, her heirs and successors.

“It is something that many of us have choked on and it is a compromise that we have all had to undertake to have the honour and privilege of serving in this august body,” he said.

At the end of his presentation to Parliament, Gonsalves said that he took the affirmation because it is required by law.

“But I crave your indulgence in, on a bible, to swear an additional oath, one not compelled by the law but by my heart and my conscience, ‘to serve the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to uphold her laws and Constitution to the best of my ability, without fear or favour, so help me almighty God,” Gonsalves said.

Speaking to I-Witness News, Gonsalves noted that when he was sworn in as Minister of Foreign Affairs last week Monday, he made an affirmation instead of an oath and did not place his hand on the Holy Bible to do it.

He did the same thing on did Thursday.

“Not that it makes a legal difference, but it makes a moral difference. It feels less offensive to the spirit,” he told I-Witness News.

He said that in most parliaments, oaths are made to uphold the nation’s constitution and to the people.

“They don’t make oaths to a foreign monarch. … for example, if you look at the United States oath of office, they make an oath to uphold the constitution. In other republican countries in the Caribbean, they general make oath to the people of their respective countries,” Gonsalves further said.

“It is a little strange in this day and age, having escaped the bonds of colonialism to continue making oaths to Queen Elizabeth,” Gonsalves said of the nation’s queen.

“And, of course, this is no objection to Queen Elizabeth or what England may or may not have done for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is simply if we are elected to serve the people, we should make our oath in the regard and not our oath to the Queen.”

Lawyer PR Campbell agrees

Lawyer Parnell Campbell, centre, among persons in the Strangers' Gallery in Parliament on Thursday. (Photo: Duggie "Nose" Joseph, via Facebook)
Lawyer Parnell Campbell, centre, among persons in the Strangers’ Gallery in Parliament on Thursday. (Photo: Duggie “Nose” Joseph, via Facebook)

Meanwhile, lawyer Parnell R. Campbell, who helped to craft the revised constitution that Vincentians rejected in 2009, said that he agrees “one hundred per cent” with the senator.

“ Sen. Gonsalves’ comments on the oath have gone down well with me,” Campbell told I-Witness News separately on Thursday.

“We tried very hard when we fought for the new constitution to educate the public about the symbolism of an oath of office to the Queen. Unfortunately the constitution was not passed. But in the course of our deliberations, we discovered that the oath itself, the format of the oath, is not set in stone so that we do believe that it is up to Parliament, if it so wishes, to change the nature of the oath. And he has called on that to be done and I look forward with interest to see what would happen,” said Campbell, a former attorney general.

He further said that an alternative oath will be “an oath of allegiance to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“… There is another strand of opinion that there is nothing wrong with taking an oath of allegiance both to the Queen and to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, because, after all, she is Queen of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“So, theoretically, there is nothing wrong with having an oath both to the queen and an oath as well to the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Campbell told I-Witness News.

6 replies on “Sen. Gonsalves calls for revised Oath of Allegiance”

  1. Why not take an oath to ALBA or Marxism or Cuba.

    This is all crap, what we need from this young man is confirmation that he does not agree with some of the policies on how to treat those that oppose his father or the ULP, we want to see a streak of decency,

    We need to see him speak out about the wrongs done against people like Biggs and hundreds if not thousands who have suffered injustice.

  2. It is pretty obvious, that Camillo is here to continue the work of his father. This is a clear indication that Constitution reform will be back on the agenda in the not too distant future, if Camillo has his way. Interesting times coming in the political arena of SVG…I think Camillo is a game changer, in the sense that while he may have similar political views as his father, I believe, he has a different outlook on how things should be done. With Camillo and Jomo stepping into the arena, the ULP has just put the NDP in the shade, in terms of refreshing the look of the party.

    The NDP has stated they have new faces for the next election…but where are they? Who are these new faces? Ben Exeter? Who is this guy? I think most folks are familiar with Mr Ferdinand, but has he been officially introduced to the country by the leader of the NDP? There is Mr Baptiste, who speaks on a regular basis on the NDP talk radio…but I have no idea who is this guy or if he is officially a candidate of the NDP for the next elections….Noel Dickson? Who is this guy? Well anything is better than Burton, at this moment. I went to the NDP website and there is no updated information about these new faces. Is the NDP really ready, as they so claimed? I hope so, cause Gonsalves and his ULP minions are already beating the election drums.

    Let me say for the record, that its time for Dr Friday, to step forward from the shadows of his NDP colleagues and take a more visible and active role in the affairs of the NDP. I don’t think it was any coincidence when Gonsalves nominated him as Deputy Speaker. It was a tacit acknowledgement from Gonsalves that he is the future leader of the NDP and possible leader of the country; an obvious and unforgivable slight to Eustace and Leacock.

    Dr Friday, apart from Jules Ferdinand and of course Eustace, is the only candidate in the NDP, who has the temperament and level of gravitas to be Prime Minister. So I am always a bit baffled why Dr Friday, stays in the background and allow lesser personalities and divisive characters to hug the spotlight. Dr Friday, I think Gonsalves threw you a political bone…I think you should grab it and beat Eustace and others with it…this is politics, you have to be ruthless in the arena. I am just saying.

    By the way, when is the NDP going to replace Ms Frederick as Senator? Clearly, she is not going to run in the next election, so why have her taking up valuable space. Linton Lewis is an unpopular figure in the political circles…with no possible chance of winning a political seat, so he is another one that should give way and allow others to shine.

    Is Mr Eustace ready to shake up the NDP for the next elections? Is Dr Friday, ready to step forward from the shadows and lay claim to the throne? Interesting times ahead in SVG politics.

  3. Patrick Ferrari says:

    I agree with the younger Gonsalves but far more with Mr Binose. We have far more pressing issues like, “to serve the people of St Vincent & the Grenadines,” rather than “to serve daddy issues.”

    It is his first outing so we know where he’s headed.

    If he was truly interested “to serve the people of St Vincent & the Grenadines” especially after his flowery adjectives, like, serve with “my heart and conscience … without fear of favour, so help me almighty God.” And to do so in a way that “it makes a moral difference” and so that “it feels less offensive to the spirit,” young Gonsalves would see that fixing the offensive and immoral treatment of Bigger Bigs ahead of doing what daddy wants.

    It looks as if we are in for more pretty sounding verbiage and art of political compromise – as he quoted Max Weber.

    We want a difference not more of the same.

  4. It is amazing that every time an important issue that touches and concerns the way Vincentians live, there are some people who side step the message and attack the messenger. I agree with Camillo and PR on the matter of swearing allegiance to the Queen and her heirs.Time will prove us correct on this one.
    On the matter of Bigger Biggs. Bigger is a progressive businessman. Bigger has made this personal issue a political one and there are some among us who have been using this issue to make a case of victimisation. We have listened to the arguments and unfortunately again, we have chosen sides based on politics.
    Questions,
    1.Could someone tell me how many block makers in SVG who are purchasing raw material from Rabacca to run their operations?
    2. What was the price of Bigger blocks compared to the price of the other operators in the market?
    3. How many of these block makers have closed business since they had to buy raw materials from Rabacca?
    4. Did Bigger consider buying raw materials from Rabacca as an option to keep his operation open and save those jobs?
    5. Is there a technical solution to the problems that got us to this situation?
    6. Is Bigger interested in a technical solution?

    It is my opinion that if a solution is reached before the next elections that this will weaken the charge of victimization against Bigger.
    Is Bigger interested in a solution before the next elections?

    Although I am not worried about personal attacks really, can we for once stick to the issue? Just asking. #withasmile#

  5. FITZ-HUGGINS, I will discount what you say because you are only protecting the party line, the line of your boss.

    If you had any decency you would come and condemn what has been done to Biggs and his workers, instead of trying to quantify what happened to Biggs because he changed sides, ULP to NDP. He has been treated to hatred, spite and malice, have you got nothing to say about that. Have you not got the common decency to support a fellow Vincentian that has been grossly wronged?

    Being truthful is not just about not telling lies, its about talking about what you know in your heart to be true and supporting what’s right.

    I suppose your record tells me not to expect more from you than what you have written here.

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