By Philip J. Pierre
The following is a three-part series 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 country and our party, the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP), stand at a crossroad. Soon our people will be faced with a clear choice, to continue to see our country suffer and its eventual collapse under the current corrupt, inept and ineffective government of the United Workers Party (UWP), or we arrest the suffering and return Saint Lucia to a new and bright future of growth and the prospects of new jobs. The UWP government has placed Saint Lucia in more debt, more corruption and schemes that benefit UWP politicians and their friends, family, and foreigners while our people and our children are suffering.
I stand before you today in this building constructed by the SLP and dedicated by our party, to one of our esteemed stalwarts, government minister and outstanding parliamentarian, the late, Jon Odlum with a plan to lead us into government. A plan based on a vision to lead our great nation out of the mess that this UWP government has created. A plan, which will restore Saint Lucia to prosperity and growth.
I no longer stand before you as the leader of the opposition, but as the leader in waiting for the next government of Saint Lucia and I am here to tell you, we are ready.
For too long we have been seeing the disastrous effects of this UWP government. We have witnessed the broken promises; the lies, the corruption and the selfishness of those who pretend to serve the many, but in fact, are only there to help the few. I say now, enough is enough. They have had their time and they have failed. Saint Lucia needs a new government, a new leader and a new future. It is time for the SLP to put things right.
No dirty tricks of Cambridge Analytica will stop our party from rescuing our country from [total] destruction. This storm has got to end, and it will soon from now.
Thanks to this UWP government the people of Saint Lucia are burdened with nearly $5 billion in debt and with millions of dollars wasted in scandals and corruption. This UWP government promised hope and change. I have news for them, it takes more than talk and bluff to achieve real change. You don’t achieve change just by wishing for it. You have to plan for it and are prepared to work hard.
We need a plan, a strategy, and a vision and a government which will work night and day to deliver a better Saint Lucia for all the people and that is what our party will provide to Saint Lucia. Our people are fed up with hypocrisy, deceit, greed, and corruption. They want a government that is true to them, honest with them, dedicated to making their lives better.
They want a government that works for everyone – not for itself. A government that will create jobs and provide a livable wage to the workers of this country. Not big payouts to their cohort of enablers. A government that puts our own people first – not its friends and family.
Oh yes, [comrades] there is much to do. This UWP government has let the people of St Lucia down.
Have they fulfilled their promises? Have they removed VAT? Have they reduced debt? Have they put more money in your pockets? Have they reduced the cost of living? Where are the investments? Where are the five hotels? Where are the new jobs?
Every day I hear the anger and frustration of our people, they tell me about the bad roads, the poor transport service, and the deplorable healthcare system and their children being denied their education because of this government’s incompetence.
Saint Lucia has become a place where people are afraid to go out on the streets because of crime. Corruption in government has become a way of life. A country where our youth can no longer dream of a future in a Saint Lucia where their aspirations can be realized.
We welcome our visitors and the representatives of the friendly countries who are attending our party’s conference [today]. We thank all the people of these countries for their friendship and support to our country and apologize for the embarrassment that this government has caused the people of Saint Lucia, in their show of ingratitude.
We once more call for the removal of the trade embargo on Cuba and the immediate cessation of all economic and political sanctions contemplated or imposed on the hardworking people of Cuba.
We continue to call for non-inference and a peaceful solution to the situation in Venezuela and express our grave concern for the effects of the unnecessary sanctions on the people of Venezuela.
We condemn the unprincipled nature in which the UWP government conducts our foreign affairs and take note of the game of Chinese checkers being played by the UWP.
After forty months of the globe-trotting prime minister of Saint Lucia, Allen Chastanet has not negotiated one new bilateral agreement or opened up a single new market for Saint Lucian goods. Our foreign policy is premised on frequent flier miles to London and Zurich.
A labour government will ensure that every overseas trip will be designed to build partnerships, which will benefit the people of Saint Lucia. We will seek to create new trade deals and funding support with foreign countries. We will appoint experienced trade ambassadors to existing and new trading partner nations.
We will rebuild our international reputation by ensuring a foreign relations agenda that fits the reality of our time and based on the fundamental principles of mutual respect, strategic interest, non-interference in the internal affairs of countries and for the ultimate benefit for the people of Saint Lucia. We will work tirelessly to secure market access, technological exchange and support for human resource development.
We recognize that whilst looking north to the developed countries of this hemisphere has resulted in tremendous support for Saint Lucia the time has come for us to expand south/south cooperation as a deliberate strategy to strengthening foreign and international relations. A labour party government will spare no effort to allocate resources, which would stimulate partnerships with net gains for our people.
Friends Family and Foreigners
The UWP has tried without success to misinterpret your concern about Friends, Family, and Foreigners (FFF). I want to be clear. An SLP government makes no apologies for putting Saint Lucians first. Saint Lucia belongs to all of us and we must be given the opportunity to strive, to grow our businesses, to serve our country and to reap the benefits of national development. Our growth and development cannot be achieved without the embrace of real investors who value our national ethos and respect our workers. It is based on those principles that we will design the necessary policies that will make it possible for us to continue attracting foreign direct investment. We will not surrender our rights on the altar of phony investments and sweet-talking con artists.
We will improve legislation on alien land-holding rights and establish stricter guidelines to control any likelihood of Saint Lucians’ becoming second class citizens in their own country.
We will re-design the Citizens by Investment (CBI) programme to ensure transparency and accountability. We will seek to attract the most eligible, affluent people to invest in our programme. The CBI will be used as an investment tool for the benefit of the people of Saint Lucia. We will ensure that the people of Saint Lucia are informed openly and transparently on the use of our CBI funds.
We will ensure that our beaches remain public and no dolphin parks are built on the Pigeon Island causeway. Pigeon Point will remain a public national park for the enjoyment of locals and visitors. We will immediately restore and increase the subvention to the National Trust.
We are ready
Our readiness for government has started with our party. I want to thank each and every-one of you sitting here with me today for your service to the people’s party, and to our country. The SLP is an organized, disciplined and progressive party that observes the dictates of its constitution. All constituencies have had their AGMs and all voting members have paid their dues. Our Youth and Women’s organization have also held successful conferences. The executive of our party has been meeting every month and the National Council as stipulated.
We are organized and focused. We need to increase our membership by working to ensure that more people, particularly the youth and women, join our Party. I am pleased to report that our membership drive is progressing. We welcomed at one meeting over 100 new members to our party. Our party is alive, democratic and progressive. ll party officials have been elected in accordance with the constitution. We understand the value that everyone brings to our party and country. I want to invite all Saint Lucians to join this movement for change. We deserve a better Saint Lucia.
I believe we can have prosperity and wealth creation in a fair and just society. We need to foster an environment of equality to ensure that the opportunities we create are available to everyone. Only the SLP can restore people’s faith that a Saint Lucian government will treat its citizens fairly and justly. The UWP government has taken us back in time. The St Jude hospital continues to be in a stadium for over ten years while priority continues to be given to horses before the health of the people.
The prime minister was comfortable with a garbage dump a few yards away from the makeshift St Jude hospital but it is very uncomfortable for him with the same dump being too close to the Desert Star Holdings (DSH) horse racing track. So, what does he do? He uses the National Insurance funds (NIC) to remove the dump, never mind the track is further from the dump than the hospital.
It is clear. The prime minister is more concerned about the wellbeing of horses than the sick in the South [of the Country].
In part two, Philip J. Pierre introduces a new candidate. The SLP promise to end corruption and a plan to rescue Saint Lucia with a new social order.