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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves speaking at a press conference in Kingstown on Monday, May 27, 2024.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves speaking at a press conference in Kingstown on Monday, May 27, 2024.
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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has repeatedly referred to Opposition Leader Godwin Friday as a “Canadian” rather than address the issue of the homicide situation in the country as raised on a billboard at Gibson Corner.

The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), of which Friday is president, erected the billboard on May 16, saying there were 52 homicides in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) in 2023 and that crime is out of control.

Gonsalves, who was in Taiwan when the billboard was erected, spoke about it on Sunday and Monday, and on each occasion noting Friday’s dual citizenship.

Friday, who was born in Bequia but attained citizenship in Canada, where he studied, lived and worked for years before returning to SVG before the 2001 election and has since built a house in Bequia. 

Speaking on WE FM on Sunday, Gonsalves said:

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“… I find it really offensive for a Canadian by the name of Godwin Friday — because he’s a Canadian, because he has chosen to be a Canadian; he born a Vincentian, still has Vincentian citizenship, but he’s chosen to be a Canadian, and he has sworn allegiance to Canada, because he has a passport, he has told us that publicly in the Parliament — to have him, this Canadian Lorraine Godwin Friday put up a billboard on the way from the airport and on the way to Sandals at the very moment when you had about 500 of the top touristic agencies and journalists in the world down at Sandals, and this Canadian citizen Lorraine Godwin Friday put up a billboard to undermine the economy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Gonsalves has repeatedly referred to Friday’s dual citizenship, which does not disqualify him from holding office as an MP.

In becoming a Canadian citizen, Friday would have sworn or affirmed that he would be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors…

It was the same oath that Gonsalves, Friday and other MPs took each time they were elected before 2015 — when the oath was changed and lawmakers began swearing allegiance to SVG – as the British monarch is also the sovereign of SVG.

NDP billboard
The NDP billboard at Gibson Corner.

Some members of the public, many of them known supporters of the ULP have said that the billboard was targeted at guests travelling to Sandals Resort in Buccament.

However, Friday rejected this, saying on May 21, “This is not attacking tourism… I am concerned about what’s happening to the people in this country. We live it every day.

Gonsalves said people will make their judgement “as to whether there’s any commitment there by this Canadian Godwin Friday to St. Vincent and Grenadines”.

The prime minister said the larger issue “is the matter of apart from the specific issue in wanting to undermine the economy of St. Vincent and Grenadines, the NDP led by this Canadian Lorraine Godwin Friday, who happen to be born in Bequia, that they have contracted out their thinking to the people overseas who funding them with the hope that they will sell the Vincentian passport, that will come to office.

“And because these guys overseas they ain’t care nothing whether St. Vincent goes to the dogs, St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves further said of the “guys” who allegedly want to sell SVG passports.

In fact, they will want you to depend on selling passports and citizenship so that they can hold you tight, that you have no breathing space. They don’t mind if the whole country mashup so long as they get the passports,” he said.

The NDP has said that if elected to office they will establish a citizenship by investment (CBI) programme.

Gonsalves has repeatedly said that he and his ULP is opposed to CBI and he has likened it to selling passports.

His latest comments came even as Grenada’s revenue from CBI soared to a record EC$1.128 billion — 310.1% year-on-year increase.

The SVG budget for 2024 is EC$1.6 billion.

Gonsalves said:

“And because Europe, Britain, North America, Canada, and particularly Europe and Britain where we have visa-free arrangements and the noose is tightening because there’s only a limited time left for those programmes to be allowed to flourish, these guys overseas, the firm in Switzerland and their allies in China and elsewhere, they would want to sell the passports and the citizenship as fast as they can,” Gonsalves said.

Canada imposed visa requirements on Vincentians among other passport holders, including St. Lucian in 2012, citing “A key reason why the government has imposed visa requirements on St. Lucia and St. Vincent is unreliable travel documents. In particular, criminals from these countries can legally change their names and acquire new passports,” Ottawa said then.

Kingstown rejected this and defended the integrity of its travel document. 

In June 2023, Canada announced visa-free travel to “known travellers” from 13 more countries, including Vincentian passport holders

A known traveller is someone who currently holds a Canadian visa, obtained one over the last 10 years or holds a valid United States visa. A known traveller can enter Canada after obtaining an electronic travel authorisation.

Gonsalves said on Sunday that there is “a limited window [for CBI] and those who are hangers-on on the NDP, including some accountants and some lawyers, and those who see themselves perhaps as money managers, they would love that because they will theif as fast as they can as much as they can. 

So this billboard thing is beyond,” the prime minister said.

“It is very much so trying to mash up the country because that’s all. How could you conceive of doing such a thing? You only parcel out your thinking to those from overseas, to these marauders and opportunities and people who want to buy and sell our patrimony, that is our citizenship and passport and bring a lot of vagabonds and make it difficult for people to travel to Canada and even to the United States of America and certainly to Britain and Europe.”

12 replies on “PM calls Friday ‘Canadian’ over killings stats billboard ”

  1. When you have no plan, you attack the messenger not the problem. You in office too long Comrade, all out of ideas. Time for change.

  2. Yes big boy run like a mouse and continue to evade the issue and as for calling the opposition leader a Canadian please don’t John Public you just found out he is.Hmm big boy “Thin walls do great wits and fools divide.”

  3. This man is so disingenuous, it is no longer funny. Can he state how David Ames and others who have Vincentian passports, who have not lived in St. Vincent long enough to qualify got theirs?

  4. This just goes to show just how much the prime minister is trying to play innocent. Everything that he said at no point did he address the issue of crime and violence. He is the minister of security but does nothing to strengthen or support security in the country. He continues to run away from the real problems that vincentians are facing, hoping that no one will address him on that. The prime minister thinks he is so slick that he will use his party supporters loyalty to party against them, where these issues are concerned. “Who fooling who, who misleading who”? The sleeping people are awake and we can see your every move.

  5. Roslindale Ryan says:

    This pm is a descendant of Portuguese who first started enslaving Africans. PM ,Friday’s ancestors paid the price with their free labor, blood and life.He’ll be more patriotic and Vincentian than you’ll ever be .He has Garifuna blood coursing through his veins. You’re on your usual ego trip. You read a lot and research a lot.Can you enlighten Vincentians about the role your Portuguese ancestors played in slavery? Be honest and forthcoming about the role your ancestors played in the slave trade with the people you proclaim to love so much.

  6. Dancea Lipson says:

    “How does he explain or rationalise that by retaining his British citizenship, even after becoming leader of the Opposition with the hope of becoming prime minister he, himself, has “one foot in and one foot out”? He has spoken about the imperative of repatriating our sovereignty. Why has he been unwilling to repatriate that foreign half of his citizenship? What is so precious about it that he does not want to readily give it up?”

    This is a quote from Mr Daryl Vaz, a Jamaica Cabinet minister in reference to Jamaica’s L:eader of the Opposition.

    Truly, what is preventing Dr Friday from giving up his Canadian citizenship, and manifestly commit to SVH ??

  7. Frydey better to b ah kaynedan dan un accused raypist. Ah sure wife and kids very proud ah dat.

    I want to sea ah billboard ” eat dem out, tek dey money, den vote dem out”. Rite across buy NEMO/botanick garden area. Way dey could sea it every day in dey going and coming.

    Ah also want to sea ah billboard ah how many qubans and vennisvalan in a little svg. Ah wonder if d # gone pass d vincentian population?

  8. Take warning says:

    LOL, tell me if Honorable Godwin Friday wants a birth paper, where will he get it? you think you can always work on the people minds ? or is it tatics to dodge the issue ?

  9. Hmm I am wandering what other citizenship Louis hold.Talk about that Big Boy.I swear by the most high you have a serious case of foot in mouth disease.

    1. Uncle Ralph.⚖️ Friday is a vincentian. […] And Look what you did to Teachers And Police.How could a country progress when it’s people are being suppress. Why?. It’s time for you go and rest your self. You Did Your Time. It’s T 😂

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