By Philip J. Pierre
The following is part two of the address by the political leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) Philip J. Pierre, delivered at the annual conference of delegates (open session), October 13, 2019.
Our new candidate
In the movement to victory, we need passionate, honest, disciplined, hardworking and dedicated individuals to represent our party as candidates at the next general elections. The constituency groups have been mandated to start the search for candidates in the remaining eleven constituencies. I have a practical and ambitious plan to have all our seventeen candidates by early next year. We have begun our candidate selection. I want to present to you one of our outstanding new candidates this afternoon.
[Today] October 13, 2019, in the constituency of Castries South – the battleground of our founder and patriot Sir George F.L. Charles, I am honoured and privileged to present the first of the new members of our winning team comrade Wayne Girard the endorsed candidate for Anse-La-Raye/Canaries.
Wayne has decided to put his hand up and to take on the struggle for bread, freedom, and justice. Wayne embodies the future of our party. He was born in Jacmel in the heart of the constituency. He grew up among the people, never lost touch with them, has always contributed to worthy causes in the community. He is a young, qualified, family man, humble and disciplined, and more importantly, he loves people. I urge the people of Anse-La-Raye to embrace and support Wayne as I am sure he will be well supported by our party. I have full confidence in Girard. I present to you comrades Wayne Girard for Anse-La-Raye/Canaries.
An end to corruption
My promise to you at this conference and to the people of Saint Lucia is that I will not tolerate corruption at any level. Corruption is a plague in our political system. It robs people of resources that should have been used for their benefit. I will lead by example, and we will need to be the change we want to see. As prime minister of this country, I will have a zero-tolerance approach toward corruption. We have suffered enough from this blight of corruption. Our citizens are fed up at the corruption they have been seeing almost daily in government.
They are fed-up of Pajoah letters and millions of dollars’ worth of contracts awarded by a direct award, no formal tender to allow competition. This United Workers Party (UWP) government uses contracts to reward family and friends at the expense of the hardworking businesses eager to work in our country. We will put an end to this scourge.
Corruption is coming at a heavy price to the taxpayers of this country. A contract that is supposed to cost $10 million is awarded for $13 million to a friend of the government minister, depriving our health care system, schools, roads in need of repairs and the distress fund of $3 million of much-needed funds. It amounts to money stolen from your pockets that could also have been used to improve your personal lives. We will stop that blight and I will ensure that the people benefit from the resources of our country.
I am putting on notice those politicians and their collaborators who have misappropriated the monies of the people of Saint Lucia that when we get into government we will immediately commission a forensic review of all questionable transactions that the UWP government undertook and we will do everything within the law to recover these monies. Let me be clear – no minister will be above the law. I will not stand for corruption.
The governance rules will have to be tightened to avoid the blatant abuse of rules that provided some latitude for [honourable] men and women to manage the affairs of the country effectively. I promise that there will be new public procurement rules to avoid the abuses that have taken place using direct awards.
We will legislate and enact new laws that will ensure transparency in the award of contracts and the conduct of governmental business practices. We will strengthen the Integrity Commission. People have lost trust in government. This is a government of deals and schemes. A government that refuses to implement any project unless they can see a clear path to make money to enrich themselves and their friends.
The UWP government stopped the Hewanorra Airport re-development. They cancelled the Gros Islet Highway. They stopped the LED street lighting project because there was no avenue for corruption. Three years later they are fighting to re-start these projects that should have been completed if the labour party was in power.
Therefore, you see what corruption does?
It delays progress and people suffer. What a selfish and greedy bunch. – They must go!!!
The Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) has a plan to rescue Saint Lucia
We cannot allow the UWP another term in office. We know that they will ruin our country [Saint Lucia]. It’s time for a new tomorrow and your party has a plan for everyone which will be discussed with input from all sectors of the community. It’s a people’s plan made for the people and by the people. We cannot afford another term of UWP corruption and criminal neglect of the basic needs of our people.
I want you to join me in service to our nation. My ambition is not the desire for personal power and wealth but to restore our great country and a return to the values our party holds: integrity, hard work, meritocracy, inclusiveness, humility, truth, respect for the environment, honesty and love of country. My teacher mother and policeman father brought me up to live by these values.
Our party is guided by these values and when in power we will govern by these values. We want a real people’s government with an economy that benefits the many not the few. We want economic prosperity for all. An economy based on the pillars of economic growth and stability – poverty reduction and equity, job creation and labour absorption, good governance and sound environmental stewardship.
In order to achieve our goal of prosperity for all: We, the SLP will implement policies that will facilitate a progressive reduction in the rate of debt accumulation, encourage the growth and expansion of medium, small micro-entrepreneurs and co-operatives, develop a vibrant youth economy, ensure rural enterprise development and enhanced rural livelihoods – growth and expansion of indigenous business organization, enabling environment for real direct foreign investment, ensure fiscal prudence, eliminate corruption and adherence to established prudential macroeconomic benchmarks.
The pursuit of new economic vistas and opportunities in the green economy, the blue economy, the grey economy, geothermal development, and renewable energy initiatives.
An SLP government will ensure that the people are not left behind in development. Our economy is for the people: Our people are our priority, not horses.
A new social order
I hear the cries and desperation of the people of Saint Lucia. I hear the need for better health care, better-paying jobs, expanded bus service and the need to foster equality and opportunity for all.
We need to return kindness and selflessness in our communities. We need to restore our people’s faith in our government and political system. We need a government that will govern with fairness, meritocracy, and truth. We cannot build a society or a country based on lies, fabrication, bluff and blatant untruths. The government and the prime minister’s inclination to speak untruths has the effect of undermining the development of our people and country.
This UWP government has created widespread chaos in every major sector from health to education, to law and order- on account of misinformation, blatant untruths, and deception.
When ministers of government and the prime minister knowingly and persistently keep telling untruths to the people of this country, they are saying at the very least three things to us;
- They do not believe that we deserve to know the truth;
- We are not intelligent enough to detect untruths;
- We are expected to believe them because of the position that they hold.
We deserve to know the truth. We need to remind the prime minister that this is the year 2019, not 1920. We are no longer in a state of servitude. The twentieth century has long gone. It is now the 21 century the age of enlightenment. We are all equal before the law and there is a place, we call home – Saint Lucia. We shall not be run out of this place.
Saint Lucia, for most of us, is the only place we can call home. Most of us do not hold a foreign passport to allow us to take up residence in another country when things get tough. The people of Saint Lucia must not allow this misguided government to turn our country over to a few wealthy friends, family and foreigners. It must not be allowed to happen and together we shall stop it. We have come from too far as a people to revisit the humiliation of being led by a selfish, misguided and uncaring government.
The people of Saint Lucia are fed up with empty promises. We do not live in a fantasy world of dreams of 23 new islands and imaginary development. We want honesty, safe streets, and hospitals that care for patients.
We need to stamp out victimization, corruption, and injustice and encourage inclusiveness dialogue and participation. The next general election is about saving our country from economic ruin, social instability, and corruption. Saint Lucians want leaders who will put our country back on course and completely change the disrespect shown by the prime minister and his ministers in the House of Assembly.
Saint Lucians are noble and simple. We want honesty and fairness, jobs and progress, local services that work, care for their sick and elderly and a future for their young.
The SLP will and when possible, partner with the private sector to provide healthcare, homes for the elderly and provide better home support. We will make sure our elderly are respected and looked after. We will harness the talents and experience of our retired and returning nationals in our national development agenda. We will review the remuneration of pensioners and the allowances for the indigent.
I ask the question? Why should our people not want a better life to aspire to become great, to own businesses, to be professionals, to be happy and contented in their country?
This UWP government promotes division and hatred and want some people to cry. as if to justify their hatred and division, the prime minister said we lost our right to express ourselves [June 6, 2016]. They want us to live in fear. And now they have begun intimidating the media. This is not the Saint Lucia we deserve.
I want Saint Lucia to have a new tomorrow of opportunity and prosperity. I have a plan to deliver it and under my leadership, I have dedicated the SLP to achieving this, not for us only, but for our children. I am a proud Saint Lucian; I am proud of my roots and I am excited about our future. I do not say it will be easy. It won’t. The road ahead of us is long.
I will not say the battle is ours for the taking. It isn’t. The fight will be tough, and our opponents are nasty and will want to win by whatever means necessary.
I will not say our victory is assured. It’s not. Winning the trust of our great people who are wary of the false promises and lies of the UWP will be difficult. I say to you, never has there been more at stake in an election than the one we are about to face. Our entire nation depends on what we do next. Our children’s future depends on what you do next.
So, I ask you, will you stand with me and take this fight in your constituencies and tell the people to put their faith in Labour?
We will deliver a new tomorrow. Saint Lucia will never look back again.
In part three, Philip J. Pierre examines the SLP’s emphasis on youth, education as an equaliser, healthcare for all, a new emphasis on small business and investment, to deliver a new tomorrow.
Related: Our Country is in chaos – Part 1