The Dr. Ralph Gonsalves Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration on Monday announced its three new senators, two of which have been given Cabinet-level posts.
Immediate past ambassador to the United Nations and son of Dr. Gonsalves, Camillo Gonsalves, was sworn in as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, Commerce and Information Technology.
Luke Browne, the ULP’s caretaker for East Kingstown and the party’s candidate there in 2010, was sworn in as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Sports, and Culture
Political activist and commentator, Jomo Thomas, was announced as a senator, but will take the Oath in Parliament on Thursday.
Prime Minister Gonsalves also announced that he has asked Opposition legislator, MP for the Northern Grenadines, Dr. Godwin Friday, to allow himself to be nominated as Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly.
If Friday does not accept, Thomas will be appointed Deputy Speaker.
Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne congratulated the senators saying, “They are all, as you know, very bright, outstanding Vincentians and the population expects a lot from all of you.
“I have always been of the opinion that service to one’s country, and, by extension, service to humanity, is one of the more noble traits that anyone can possess,” the head of state further stated.
“I think that you all should feel honoured that you have been given this opportunity to serve your country. I hope that through your actions and utterances it will make all Vincentians proud — and I emphasise all Vincentians proud.”
And, Dr. Gonsalves said each of the senators has “accomplished a great deal”.
He noted that Browne, a former national and Rhode Scholar, has an undergraduate degree in economics and mathematics, and master’s degree in statistics from Oxford University.
The younger Gonsalves is also former senior crown counsel and has undergraduate degrees in journalism and law, a master’s degree in global affairs (political economy), and is currently pursuing a doctorate.
Thomas has an undergraduate degree in journalism and political science, a law degree, and a master’s degree in international affairs and political economy.
“I think the appointment of Jomo might have surprised some because it is well known that Jomo has been a critic of mine,” Dr. Gonsalves said.
“He has criticised policies of the Government, he has criticised me personally, though we have been together in Yulimo and the UPM. And I know that at election time in 2005 and 2010 he supported the Unity Labour Party because in political situations, you have to have choices.
Dr. Gonsalves however said he is not worried about criticisms.
“I am too old in the game for that and I love this country too much for that and I know all the many voices which are there. The point is this, so long as those voices are not malicious voices, so long as these voices are genuine, honest patriotic voices.”
He said that his government — which came to office in 2001 and will seek a fourth consecutive term at the next general lections, constitutionally due in 2015 — “has as part of its mandate and as part of its obligation to refresh itself with personnel and with ideas”.
“The vision and the philosophy of the government remain intact, that is to say, people-centred vision, a philosophy of social democracy as applied to the circumstances of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Dr. Gonsalves said.
“But, of course, every single political party — government — ought always to be refreshing itself with personnel and ideas because if you do not adapt and change, you will become a dinosaur. …”
He said that the prehistoric small mammal adapted and changed and survived even as the dinosaurs went extinct.
“Our party and government, metaphorically, are small mammals and therefore, we evolve, we adopt, we change in the new environment but located in a people-centred vision and bedrock principles and philosophy.
“And the people must see that their government, particularly one in its third term and looking for a fourth, that that government, that party, adapts and changes.
“It doesn’t matter if any other organisation doesn’t want to adapt and change; that is their business. We are in the business of responding to our domestic condition, our regional environment, politically and economically, and, and naturally, of course, our natural environment and that is why, climate change, for example, is a matter of existential importance to us,” Gonsalves said.
The appointment of Sen. Gonsalves brings to three the number of Gonsalves’ kin that are parliamentarians.
The Prime Minister’s first cousin, Julian Francis, is also a senator and Minister of Works.
The three senators are replacing former parliamentary secretary Elvis Charles, former foreign secretary Dr. Douglas Slater, and former deputy speaker, David Browne.