An opposition legislator has criticised Members of Parliament who do not attend the annual Military Parade to celebrate the nation’s Independence.
“Mr Speaker, I was at the Parade at the Park and I implore all members of the Parliament to drop whatever they are doing and find themselves at the Victoria Park when our nation is celebrating Independence,” St. Clair Leacock, MP for Central Kingstown, said to applause in Parliament on Tuesday, two days after the nation marked its 34th anniversary of Independence.
“I am unapologetic on that. Independence and nation building is a serious exercise … and those of us who want to lead the nation must demonstrate that when the occasions present themselves. That strongly I feel about that,” said Leacock, who continues to be the only MP from the opposition New Democratic Party to attend the Parade since the party was voted out of office 12 years ago.
MPs from the Unity Labour Party also regularly missed the Parade when they were in opposition.
Leacock also called for independence celebrations to be used to recognise outstanding Vincentians.
“We simply have, with dispatch, to make and give meaning to our Independence celebration by awarding and rewarding outstanding Vincentians here and in the diaspora for nation-building activities. We really have to raise that question,” he said.
The former commandant of the Cadet Force was also critical of the unit’s performance on Independence Day.
“It is the worse performance of the Cadet Band since 1968 I have ever seen and the worse performance of the Cadets… And even leading up to the parade, the general drills and performance of our armed forces are not up to the normal standard,” he said.
He said he believes this is because of a “compromise” in the recruitment process of the Police Force.
“In the old days, you spent three to six months on the parade ground honing your skills. Now you are a police before you can say left, right. We must correct that,” Leacock said, adding, “We are compromising our security and our ceremonial activities.
“Notwithstanding that, the troops did fairly well under the circumstances. … I want to salute the Pathfinders. I thought they did better than even some of the Cadets and some of the troops on parade that day in the way they carried themselves. Fantastic performance,” he said.