KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is “buckling under the pressure of an effective opposition,” the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) said in a statement on Tuesday.
The party said that Gonsalves two weeks ago made “unwise utterances” in response to Southern Grenadines representative Terrance Ollivierre’s call for a secondary school to be built on Canouan.
Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party (ULP), which came to office in 2001, said on page 71 of its manifesto for the December 2010 general elections that in the ULP’s third term it would be “building a secondary school on Canouan”.
Ollivierre, speaking at the opening of the Canouan Administrative Centre, called for a secondary school to be built on the island.
But Gonsalves, speaking at the same event, said that a secondary school on Canouan would have a maximum of 60 students after five years.
He further noted that the government would have to provide specialist teachers for all subjects and asked if the Ollivierre was suggesting a complete school or one that would educate students up to Form 3.
“It’s easy for persons to talk when they don’t have the responsibility to do anything,” said Gonsalves, who noted that Ollivierre is only a member of the Legislature and not the Executive.
“… I happen to know that the bulk of the people of Canouan have common sense, intelligence and that they are grateful. … But I am not going to sit down and hear people talk things, where there utterances are unreasonable in all the circumstances,” Gonsalves further said.
The NDP, in its statement, said that Gonsalves had forgotten his party’s promise.
“By forgetting his own party’s promise, is Gonsalves admitting that it was a lie and never the intention of the ULP to consider this project? Is he admitting that it was an attempt solely to lie for votes?” the NDP said.
It further said that the Prime Minister, “without a second thought dismissed his own party position to build the secondary school calling it an ‘unreasonable’ request”.
The NDP further said that Gonsalves “clearly lost his composure and his temper” while responding to Ollivierre’s call for a secondary school to be built on Canouan.
The party further said that Gonsalves’ statement embarrassed Minister of Education Girlyn Miguel, who was also at the ceremony, and “inflamed the people of Canouan”.
“By declaring the opposition member Terrence Ollivierre to be incapable of getting anything done, and by somehow wanting to define his role, Prime Minister Gonsalves inadvertently exposed and confirmed his own weakness as an embattled leader of this country without popular public support anywhere, anymore,” the NDP said.
“Gonsalves and his ULP lost seats in constituencies in Kingstown and … South Leeward and North Leeward, amplifying the emptiness of his boast that he is ‘Prime Minister of every square inch of this country’,” the statement added.
“The people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines look forward to the day soon when they will relieve Gonsalves of that responsibility,” the NDP said.