Two Members of Parliament have appealed for mourners to conduct themselves appropriately at the funeral of political activist Edgar Cruickshank.
They are Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and opposition lawmaker, MP for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock
Cruickshank, 78, of Questelles died in hospital on Nov. 29, hours after being injured during an incident involving a stationary and a moving vehicle at a New Democratic Party (NDP) meeting in Clare Valley on Dec. 6.
Antwone Anthony, a 39-year-old vendor of Questelles, has been charged with being the driver of motor vehicle P119 caused Cruickshank’s death by dangerous driving.
Cruickshank, a former South Leeward council member of the Unity Labour Party (ULP), who threw his support behind opposition lawmaker and South Leeward MP, Nigel Stephenson after falling out with the ULP earlier this year, will be buried in Chauncey on Saturday.
Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Gonsalves expressed condolences to Cruickshank’s widow, Celia Cruickshank and to his children, grandchildren, relatives and friends.
“Mr. Speaker, at his funeral, which takes places on Saturday at the Methodist Church in Chauncey, I’ll have an opportunity to pay my respects, not only with my presence, God willing, and also with my words to him, and also to his family,” Gonsalves said.
I-Witness News understands that Gonsalves will deliver the eulogy at Cruickshank’s funeral.
“Today, I want to say he was my friend, my comrade; we have been close friend for over 30 years. He was a national cricketer of note, a policeman, a contractor, a community activist,” Gonsalves said of Cruickshank.
“If he were not dead, in all probability, he would have been in the Parliament here listening, because he is one of the few citizens who came regularly to Parliament to hear the debates in this Honourable House,” Gonsalves pointed out.
“At his funeral on Saturday, I am making the appeal to the members and supporters of the Unity Labour Party to avoid wearing red,” Gonsalves said.
Red is the colour of the ULP, of which Gonsalves is political leader.
He said he had made a similar appeal when his former press secretary, Glenn Jackson, and former ULP senator, Michael Hamlett died.
“We need to make sure that he is laid to rest in dignity and, I am asking our supporters to avoid party colours, as we did on those occasions.
“Let us have his funeral … in the manner in which in our own Caribbean civilisation and this Vincentian component, we have these funerals with dignity and consistent with the highest principles and values of our civilisation, rested on Christian belief,” Gonsalves said.
Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace also expressed condolences.
“You know, this morning, because of his constant presence here in the Parliament, when I came in, I recognised, again, that he was not here,” said Eustace, who was at the hospital when Cruickshank died.
“I have regarded him over the years as a person who has deep interest in public affairs in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I don’t believe there is any member of the public who has been as constant as him in this house of Parliament whenever we met.
“As I said, his death was very tragic and I believe that the necessary concerns have been expressed and interest in a swift and clean inquiry.
“But he certainly will be missed in this House. One could not but observe him every time one came into this House of Assembly.
“I simply wish to say to his family and his wife and his many children that they have lost not only a father and a husband, but they have lost an important Vincentian, who by his constant presence here, showed his deep regard to the people of this country, by listening debates which are aimed at improving the well-being of all Vincentians.
“May his soul rest in peace,” Eustace said.
Leacock described Cruickshank as a “good friend” who was perhaps the most faithful member of the Strangers’ Gallery in Parliament, who came to the sittings on time and sat in the same area every single.
Leacock said he knew Cruickshank very well, and would normally start his day in Parliament by walking down the aisle and exchanging pleasantries with him.
“At that time, I knew he was a very strong, firm and avid supporter of the Unity Labour Party, but he was a good personal friend and a friend of my brother when they both worked at the Kingstown Town Board.”
The opposition MP also said that as a teenager, he knew Cruickshank as a police officer and cricketer.
“And so, whether it is in the field of cricket and sports and the police, and culture, in the most recent years, as a political activist in the party of his choice, or just as a nation builder in the Public Works Department or in the Town Board, certainly, in his own visible way, he has left his footprints in sands of time in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and has made a tremendous contribution…
“I know his family is mourning his loss at this time. Like the Honourable Prime Minister, I appeal for decency at the funeral on Saturday, and just as he has requested, I appeal to all sides to go to the funeral and conduct themselves in a way that is consistent with the way in which he would want such a ceremony to be conducted,” Leacock said.
Stephenson told Parliament that Cruickshank was well known, if not by name, by the moniker “The Man in Red”.
“… throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines, he was literally synonymous with politics and he was my political foe at my entrance into politics in 2005, but we maintained a cordial relationship, and I believe that was what was responsible for him in his latter days pledging his support for Nigel Stephenson for the next general elections,” the opposition lawmaker said.
He described as “unfortunate” and “really tragic” the incident that resulted in Cruickshank’s death.
“And having spent some time with him immediately after the accident, one would recognise, being there, having intimate knowledge of what was happening, how painful it would have been.
“And I want to take the opportunity to say to his wife and his immediate family and extended family as well to recognise that in their darkest hour that there is a God who saves and there’s a God not only of love, but he is also a God of judgement.
“And whatever has happened, Mr. Speaker, nobody wants to cast any judgement here in the House, but I just want to encourage the family to take heart, to be encouraged that one day all of their unanswered questions would be answered,” Stephenson said.