Former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. P.J. Patterson, is appealing to Parliamentarians to abandon adversarial politics and replace it with a consensual system, which embraces the best ideas regardless of the political quarters from which they originate.
"We have to make a seismic shift in our political culture," Mr. Patterson said in Gordon House on Tuesday, where a joint sitting of Parliament was held in his honour.
He said that members of the House of Representatives and the Senate have opened themselves to abuse due to their utterances both in Parliament and on political platforms.
"Personal friendships do exist between us regardless of party but how often do we express in our debates or in the public media something good, or make a positive comment about an idea, or initiative of a member of the opposite party? Sadly, we have helped to set the tone and create, or at least reinforce, the negative image of politics and politicians," Mr. Patterson said.
He warned that if politicians fail to foster a political environment, which encourages the brightest minds and proficient citizens to participate in the political process they will place the country’s democracy at risk.
"Let us ensure the perpetuation of our democracy by also strengthening its roots and extending the branches of civic participation,” the former Prime Minister said.
The joint sitting was held to honour and recognise the contribution of Mr. Patterson, who served as Jamaica’s sixth Prime Minister from March 30, 1992 to March 30, 2006, when he retired from active politics.
The session was attended by former Parliamentarians, public officials and members of the diplomatic corps.
A similar tribute was held in October to honour the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, who served as Prime Minister from 1980 to 1989.