Opposition lawmakers, St. Clair Leacock says St. Vincent and the Grenadines is yet to see the worst of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, whose government is appealing the court order to reinstate workers dismissed under the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
“You know, I don’t normally speak disparagingly of fellow politicians. But I listened to a guy at the obelisk a week or so ago. Maybe after two hours he still going,” Leacock told his New Democratic Party’s public meeting at Democrat House.
“I said, ‘If anybody did like that guy, they’ll go up the stairs, put their hand around him, say ‘Boy time to go home you hear.’ But, alas, nobody couldn’t do that,” Leacock said of the 76-year-old leader.
Leacock said that the country is at a juncture now in its political history “that we have to draw the lesson of where we are.
“Perhaps it had to take this much — 20 years — to see the real Ralph because NDP told you so one time, two times, three times. three elections, four elections, five elections and you nah believe,” the Central Kingstown MP said of the PM, who has been in office for 22 years.
“I don’t know what it will take you to see the real Gonsalves. And I don’t think you’ve seen the worst yet. There’s worse yet to come in him. I dread that day,” he said.
On March 13, the High Court ruled that the government had acted unconstitutionally in 2021 when it implemented the vaccine mandate, under which it deemed hundreds of workers to have abandoned their jobs.
The workers were deemed to have abandoned their jobs — even though they continued to attend work — because they did not take a COVID-19 vaccine as the Cabinet had ordered.
Leacock said that the court victory for the workers was in addition to the victory they had secured in the court of public opinion.
He noted that the Constitution is the highest law in the country.
“And the judge looks at the government and the prime minister and he says you are not respecting nor obeying the highest law of the land,” he said, referring to Justice Esco Henry’s ruling.
The opposition politician said the court ruling was a “serious indictment” on the government and is “enough reasons for Vincentians to wise up and rise up”.
Leacock said that the government’s unconstitutional actions in the vaccine mandate was not a one-off event or “or just a slip in attention to details…
“But the fact of the matter is that the unconstitutional way is the way for the Unity Labour Party; not just the mandate.”
He noted that the opposition asked a question in Parliament that resulted in Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves admitting and apologising for the government’s spending of EC$100 million without the expressed approval of the national assembly.
He said the opposition also took the government to account on the issue of its handling of the overdraft facility.
“… they are still unable to present a proper explanation for their actions. And when they have gone sky high with the overdraft, they just convert it into a loan without the approval of the Parliament,” Leacock said.
He noted that he has repeatedly said that had the government lost the general elections they would have been charged with misbehaviour in public office for spending over EC$100 million dollars of PetroCaribe money without the lawful authority of the Parliament.
“Just think about that. Just think about it that up to today, the largest single project in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Argyle International Airport has never been audited by the Director General of Audit,” he said, referring to the EC$700 million airport which opened in 2017, almost a decade behind schedule.
He noted that Parliament received last week the financial report of PetroCaribe.
“They brought this and they rest it down,” Leacock said, holding up the document.
“I read the document. The document says that this company is no longer a going concern,” he said, adding that this is “an accounting expression, but basically it means it brokes; it’s no good; it shouldn’t even exist anymore; it can’t pay its death; it is, literally speaking, out of business”.
Leacock said that after he asked the speaker about the document, the prime minister stood up and gave “some kind of Guinea hen-ram goat story to explain what it is, as per usual.
“But just imagine that in the first instance, they never brought the terms and agreement of this company to the Parliament. The view was that ‘You go show me your title deed?’ That’s how they treated us with contempt. Within quick time, a $100 million company have disappeared.”
On the issue of the labour movement, Leacock a former president of the Employers’ Federation, noted that he was in Grenada in 2000 where talks were held in response to the political unrest in St. Vincent and the Grenadines
“… the New Democratic Party, my party, and Sir James, then facing the might of what was then the Unity Labour Party,” he recalled.
“If you told me 22 years after that the same government, or the ULP now in government and … [which] call themselves a Labour government, would be waging war against the labour movement, I would have tell you, I don’t believe that. But it is reality.”
Leacock said it the first time in the history of SVG “that the labour movement, the trade union movement, the workers representative, the workers of the poor, downtrodden, working class in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, … has had to take the government to court on three successive occasion and won them in the courts every single time that you took them to the courts.
“And truth be told, any government that had a reasonable amount of decency among them would have demitted office, you will have come to the realisation that is time to go,” Leacock said.
As a vincentian living abroad I am ashamed of the way that Vincentians at home have allowed Ralph to scare them out of their common decency to the point that to speak out against wrong is hard.
My fellow Vincentians have given up hope. They have put their children future in the hands of a man and in a government that cares nothing about them.
Our people seem to be in a drunken stupor and it will take a serious “earthquake” to bring some soberness to them.
I pray for SVG.
Comments are closed.