Right Steps & Poui Trees


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How Many Times Did Your MP Attend Parliament in 2015?

Yesterday the Parliament sat at Gordon House for the first time in 2016, a year in which there is likely to be an election, which will determine who your MP will be for the next 5 years, approximately. (Approximately. Time for a fixed date for Jamaica’s elections?)

Parliament 12-1-16

Quick question…do you know how many times your MP attended Parliament last year? And I am not going to ask you the follow up questions – Do you care? Does it matter? Within the overall role and expectations of MPs, how highly should we rank attendance at Parliament?

I am simply going to say that if you are interested, click here: 2015 ATTENDANCE RECORD FOR MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT – JAMAICA

This chart shows how many times each MP attended the sittings of Parliament in 2015. There were 51 sittings (including the Ceremonial Opening of Parliament on February 19 and the Joint Sitting on September 30, during the visit of UK Prime Minister David Cameron). The chart also shows the number of times absent, absent with apology, apology for illness, and absent on government/official business.

Parliament attendance chart

This data doesn’t indicate whether MPs arrived late, that is after roll call, though that is in the records of Parliament. It also doesn’t indicate how long MPs remained in the Chamber, or what they said or did while there.

It is interesting to note, by the way, that there were more absences generally from September onwards. Were MPs out campaigning?

Below are the documents from Parliament, which set out the record for each sitting and from which the above chart was compiled:

ATTENDANCE RECORD OF MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT FOR PERIOD JANUARY 13 – March 25, 2015

ATTENDANCE RECORD OF MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT FOR PERIOD APRIL 7 2015

ATTENDANCE RECORD OF MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT FOR DECEMBER 2015

I’ll share the Senate attendance record for 2015 in another blog post. I am also interested in attendance at committee meetings, but those might take a longer time to collect.


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The Unelected Majority & the Elected Minority

The majority of us will never hold public office or lead the country or head a government ministry. We know the challenges faced by those who do are often great. But that doesn’t mean we must sit down and shut up in the arena of public discourse.

There are those who say that unless you can tell how to solve the problem at hand, you have no right to criticize. That would mean that most of us wouldn’t be able to say anything about the outbreak of infection in health care facilities or fires at open garbage dumps or the emptying of untreated sewage into our waterways. The thing is, we see and feel the effects of these things and as citizens in a democracy we have the right (the duty?) to speak out and ask questions; the right to indicate that we are not happy – are very distressed, actually – with what is happening.

We have a right to ask questions, to expect answers, to be told what happened, what went wrong and what is being done to correct the problem and prevent reoccurrences. We should expect journalists to have more than 5 minutes of answers. We should expect access to information contained in audits done of our health facilities. These are hardly unreasonable expectations.

We are the unelected majority, who have every right to ask questions of the elected minority and our public servants. And every right to expect forthright, accurate, comprehensive and timely answers.