KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) St. Clair Leacock and House Speaker Hendrick Alexander yesterday noted that state officials do not often pay sufficient attention to protocol, putting the country at risk of embarrassment.
Leacock detailed to Parliament his experience on Independence Day when he attended the Parade at Victoria Park.
The politician, a major in the Cadet Force, has for years been the lone opposition MP to attend the event.
“Mr Speaker, you know I am on record as saying that notwithstanding the rambunctious nature of our parliamentary activities and the divisive nature of our politics, the things that unite us as a nation are far greater than those that divide us.
“And I believe that the Independence Parade is one of those unifying activities. And while I might be in danger here of offending some people, Mr. Speaker, it is really my hope that more of us are able to be at that Independence Parade, as well as our Memorial [Day] Parade,” he stated.
“It is really a time when we, as parliamentarians, must lead from in front,” Leacock stated.
Leacock, however, said he was offended when, on arriving at Victoria Park on Independence Day, he was “prevented from parking by a sergeant in the Police Force, who was drawing to my attention that that was reserved parking for special guests, etc.
“And I had [educator] Miss Viola John in my car at the time and she took up the issue even before I did and had that officer correct the disrespect,” said Leacock, area representative for Central Kingstown.
“But, it didn’t end there, Mr. Speaker,” Leacock said, explaining that seats reserved for opposition MPs were labelled differently from those for government MPs.
“And that was characteristic of all Members of the House on that day. All of us on this side were ‘misters’, all on the other side were ‘honourable’,” Leacock said.
“It may be slight bit the protocol of it must be very seriously addressed. And I want to draw it to the attention of the protocol department of the Foreign Affairs Ministry. It may not have been deliberate but we must get – as something we say – the little things right. I leave it at that stage, Mr. Speaker,” Leacock further stated.
The Speaker, also said that many times he has attended function and had to comment on protocol issues with former Cabinet Secretary Brendon Browne.
“I think it is something we need to pay attention to because it could be very, very embarrassing to our country, to us as individual and it is something that we must pay very serious attention to,” the Speaker said.
“I remember there was an occasion – last Carnival, I think it was, when the Honourable Minister of Culture had to comment on some protocol being used – the manner of protocol was abused, I should say, at a certain function,” he further stated.