Member of Parliament for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock says Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves’ legal training clouded his handling of the repatriation of Vincentians seafarers affected by COVID-19.
“The truth be told, COVID allowed us to see that the emperor has no clothes; they have this thing that they keep representing themselves over and over and over again,” Leacock said on NICE Radio on Wednesday.
Leacock said that “having lost the argument” regarding the repatriation of Vincentian seafarers and students affected by COVID-19, Gonsalves is “shifting the goalposts”.
“And as [former Speaker of the House of Assembly] Jomo [Thomas] used to say, you have to learn to follow the bouncing ball. So don’t let him set your agenda,” Leacock said.
He said that the prime minister has the benefit of state apparatus including conversations with diplomats that allows him to speak on a first name basis and anecdotally.
“But it doesn’t mean that fundamentally that the argument that he is forwarding is necessarily true. So we have to understand how we adjust and stick to fundamentals,” Leacock said.
Gonsalves’ government has outlined a number of protocols for the repatriation of Vincentians sailors and oil rig workers, including cruise lines paying for the quarantine of persons who test positive for COVID-19.
Leacock said that the fundamental of the repatriation issue is that “the first order of the day for a prime minister of a country is to look after the safety and security of his people.
“Money comes after. That has nothing to do with legal arguments,” he said.
Gonsalves has said that his government’s position is supported by international law and common law.
Leacock further stated:
“The persons who brought home and look best after the students and the sailors in the region, Holness in Jamaica is not a lawyer, Rowley in Trinidad is not a lawyer, the President Granger in Guyana is not a lawyer, the Prime Minister of St. Kitts who did the same thing is not a lawyer; in St. Lucia, Chastanet is not a lawyer, Mitchell in Grenada is not a lawyer, and they did it on moral and principled argument and all’s well that ends well. Not every other day you go into some negotiation exercise,” Leacock said.