Opposition lawmaker, St. Clair Leacock says that while Sen. Camillo Gonsalves, is coming from “a political dynasty”, his “money” is on Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party (ULP) colleague, Saboto Caesar.
Sen. Gonsalves, son of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, took up positions as a ULP senator and Minister of Foreign Affairs last week.
Some political observers have suggested that the entry of the younger Gonsalves into politics may have destroyed or undermined the chances that Caesar, who is Minister of Agriculture, may have had of replacing 67-year-old Prime Minister Gonsalves as head of the ULP.
Leacock, speaking in Parliament on Thursday, when Camillo was sworn in as a senator, said the younger Gonsalves “comes with very special privilege”.
He further said that the former ambassador — who is trained in law, journalism, and international relations, and is reading for a doctorate — comes with “potentially three bites at the cherry”.
The three bites at the cherry were to mean that Sen. Gonsalves has replaced the foreign minister, is potentially a candidate in East St. George and could become leader of the opposition, if the ULP loses the next general elections.
“We are in for interesting things ahead,” Leacock said, adding that during the constitutional discussion in 2009, he and Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace, exchanged comments on the quality of the contributions Sen. Gonsalves was making to those debates.
“I myself was quite abrupt,” Leacock said.
Leacock further said Caesar, with whom he says he has developed a friendship, has a future, both in politics and professionally.
Caesar, a former national scholar, is also a lawyer.
“… in fact, if you want me to say that my money is on you, I will. My money is on you. We will leave that for another time,” Leacock said, in an apparent effort to stoke Caesar’s ego.
In commenting on Sen. Gonsalves, this country’s immediate past ambassador to the United Nations, Leacock said:
“I have had no personal difficulty with you in your private life, your ambassadorial life, your political life, but you are the fourth or the fifth … coming from what I consider a political dynasty.”
He mentioned former culture minister and MP under the ULP, Rene Baptiste; former tourism minister and MP, Glen Beache; former science and technology minister and MP, Jerrol Thompson; and, former senator Richard Williams.
“[They are] all from political families, their fathers have been here before. That is, the last three,” Leacock said.
“And now you are here from a political family,” he further stated, in reference to Sen. Gonsalves.
“And that means you probably know the Honourable Prime Minister more than anyone of us. I don’t think you peaked at conception but he certainly would know what he had in store for you,” the Central Kingstown representative, who first came to Parliament as a senator 12 years ago, further said.
Leacock, who is also a vice-president of the New Democratic Party, described Jomo Thomas, who was also on Thursday sworn in as a ULP senator, as an “affable” and “convivial” person.
He said that outside of Parliament, the lawyer, who is also a political activist and commentator, can be described as “mischievous, but clearly is possessed of great talent.
“I admit, at times he reminds me of the calypso ‘Kangaroo’, in that I can’t follow his politics always. “But, to the extent that this morning the Prime Minister has selected him to associate a senatorship with political conquest, it may be in Central Kingstown that I might to get to know him better with the passage of time,” Leacock further said.
“Sen. Thomas, there would be other comments to be made and I don’t think the Parliament is the appropriate place for them. I wish you well here and hope that you enjoy the respect that your parents have invested in you all the years and you, yourself, as a person, has struggled for,” Leacock said.
Regarding Luke Browne, who was also sworn in as a ULP senator and parliamentary secretary, Leacock said he continues to “decline comment on young senator Browne, save and expect to say I wish him well.
“I haven’t commented on him politically before and I would not do so this morning. But, I acknowledge his considerable academic success and I know of his sporting ability as well,” he said of the former national and Rhode scholar.
In a comment across the floor, Prime Minister Gonsalves said his “money” is on Sen. Linton Lewis, chair of the New Democratic Party, who had failed three times to win a seat in the St. Georges.
Meanwhile, in his maiden address to Parliament, Sen. Gonsalves said that unlike Leacock, he does not see politics “as a cherry to be picked repeatedly — one bite at the cherry, two bite at the cherry, three bite at the cherry.
“I am in it to serve, not to eat cherries,” he said.
“But, I think that the sentiment behind the metaphor is one with which I can agree,” Sen. Gonsalves, however, added.