That the question that Leader of the Opposition, Godwin Friday, wants the Unity Labour Party and others raising questions about his Canadian citizenship to answer.
His question comes amidst claims that he should not be a member of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Parliament because he also holds Canadian citizenship.
“Let them bring it on. The point is, there is no legal issue, they’re trying to confuse people and trying to reach out and so on…” the opposition leader said on Monday in his weekly appearance on his New Democratic Party’s “New Times” programme on NICE Radio.
“… I want to know, all those people (Vincentians) who are living in New York and Toronto and so on who send their remittances home and those who have applied and obtained Canadian citizenship, why should they be made to feel that somehow they are being disloyal to St. Vincent and they are illegitimates, that they are not Vincentians, that they are somehow other?” Friday said.
Friday, who was born in SVG, has been Member of Parliament for the Northern Grenadines since 2001.
He said it is widely known that he has been a Canadian citizen for over 30 years.
However, a few weeks ago, pharmacist and political activist Matthew Thomas wrote an opinion piece in Searchlight newspaper raising questions about Friday’s qualification to sit in the SVG Parliament, in light of his Canadian citizenship.
Speaking of the ULP and their supporters, Friday said:
“There are some people, they just like to create dissention and dissemble and carry false information. There are some people on their radio station that do that. But, for a matter as important as this, we need to be clear and tell the people: listen, a Commonwealth citizen is the person who sits in the parliament. I am a Commonwealth citizen.”
He noted that the relevant section of the SVG Constitution says that a voter or person seeing election must be a commonwealth citizen, and said that because he is a national of two Commonwealth nations he is “twice qualified” to be a Member of Parliament in SVG.
According to the SVG Constitution, a person seeking election to the SVG Parliament does not have to be a Vincentian citizen, as long as that person is a national of another Commonwealth country.
Friday said that in Jamaica, someone who was a Grenadian and Canadian citizen contested the election.
He said that some voters in Jamaica argued that the candidate should not have been allowed to context because he was not a Jamaica.
Friday, however, said that that is a political rather than a legal argument.
“He couldn’t be barred from running. And it is the same thing in our case here for Ben [Exeter] and myself,” he said, referring to the NDP’s candidate for Central Leeward in the 2015 lection, who also holds Vincentian and Canadian citizenship.
“And I am not sure that in the ULP as well if they didn’t have persons who are Canadian citizens who didn’t run in the past,” the opposition leader said.