As lawmakers met for the final time in the building that has been home to the national assembly for some 200 years, Opposition MP St. Clair Leacock said the current administration has missed the opportunity to pass certain laws to improve the lives of Vincentians.
“Look at the wasted opportunities as we are saying farewell, bye-bye or goodbye this evening,” Leacock, who has been an MP for 20 years, said on Thursday at the special sitting of Parliament in Kingstown.
“We could have been leaving this hallowed hall, this Parliament, this House of Assembly with ombudsman legislation for the protection of the ordinary man,” said Leacock, who is into his third five-year term as MP for Central Kingstown.
“We could have been leaving here with great legislation on the books for local government. We could have been leaving here with support by both sides of the house for constituency development fund to give meaning to political service, that we could do more for the masses that we talk about every day,” Leacock said.
He said the Parliament could have been moving to its temporary home in Calliaqua with legislation in place to deal with crime and violence in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Leacock noted that just the previous night, there was a shooting in Green Hill, the second in less than a week.
He said that lawmakers had a great opportunity to do more with the privilege that they had been given.
“And it would mean precious little if we left this building besieged by rats, rodents — rodents, yes, rats — lizard, bats, woodlice — Yes, we need to do something about it — but if we went to another edifice with clean hands, pure hearts, good mind and a deep and abiding appreciation for each other.”
He said he had no hate for government members of Parliament and traced the decades-long personal link between him and some government lawmakers.
He said it was good to see on his feet, Senator Julian Francis, who was attending only the second meeting of Parliament since suffering a stroke last July.
“There was a time in which my children would go to his house for birthday parties and his children will come to my house for birthday parties,” Leacock said, adding that Francis, then a banker, gave him his first commercial loan as a businessman.
Leacock said that Health Minister Jimmy Prince is his former student.
He said the Parliament should have addressed the issue of electoral reform, adding that he is the first person to win in every polling station in Redemption Sharpes, securing an excess of 269 votes there and not win the Central Kingstown seat, as was the case in 2005.
“Talk about thievery, irregularities? Electoral form is very much necessary because NDP will win the majority of votes over and over again but them guys find a way to beat the system,” said Leacock, who is also a vice-president of the New Democratic Party.