KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The opposition politician who was sacked from the senate by her party leader last week will speak at a press conference 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Former senator Anesia Baptiste along with Shefflorn Ballantyne, both members of the New Democratic Party (NDP), will speak at the press conference at Frenches House. The press conference will be broadcast live on WE FM.
Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace fired Baptiste on Thursday after she expressed her refusal to observe an NDP policy of not making adverse statements about citizens’ religions, the party’s Strategy Committee approved on Tuesday.
The 17 other members of the Committee supported the policy but Baptiste objected, according to Eustace and NDP vice-president St. Clair Leacock.
Ballantyne and Baptiste are both members of the Thusian Institute for Religious Liberty Inc. and Ballantyne has expressed an interest in being the NDP’s candidate for North Windward in the next general election — constitutionally due in 2015.
The NDP’s policy on religion arose from statements that Ballantyne made on radio earlier this month when he said Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves was hypocritical in his comments about a religious group that some have described as a “cult”.
Ballantyne said that Gonsalves, a Catholic, should criticise his own church since it has doctrines similar to the “cult”.
Citizens are expecting Baptiste and Ballantyne, and especially Baptiste — who had previously fallen out of favour with the ruling Unity Labour Party, of which she was a member — to speak to their political future.
She is also expected to explain some of her statements in the 11-page, 5,000-word letter she wrote to Eustace and circulated to the NDP’s Strategy Committee.
“Today, when I indicated my concern that matters of complaint about candidates’ public behaviour do not seem to make it to these meetings for confrontation but that this particular matter of Ballantyne’s statement interestingly came before the meeting, resulting in the dictating of a strict, anti-rights policy position, nobody responded,” she said in the letter.
She said she was referring to calls she has received complaining about an opposition legislator’s “behaviour in public with a woman who is not his wife” and also complaints about a potential NDP candidate’s “public behaviour regarding his female partner.
“I believe you (Eustace) have received these complaints also,” she said in the letter.