The New Today

Commentary

Political/Party leader position for sale

Whey Dey Come Out
Recently, we the people have heard the announcement of three front line contenders for the leadership of the “unofficial opposition” party, the National Democratic Congress – Messrs. Phillip Telesford, Dickon Mitchell and Terry Forrester. Some of we the people are amused, bemused and quite confused.  We are asking “whey dey come out?”

You see, some of we the people (politically naïve as we are) always thought that the leadership of a political party emerged from the belly of the party. It had walked among the rank and file of the party and represented  their interests, aspirations and vision. Leadership represented the soul, values, principles of the party which intends to offer itself to be caretakers and stewards of the people’s business at the level of Parliament and the Executive. It woos the electorate. So we the people must know WHAT that Leadership is made of. It fights battles on behalf of we the people, some unsuccessfully, but Leadership FIGHTS to defend public interests. We the people will know them or know of them.

One expects a party to develop the talents and skills of its rank and file and prepare its membership for the various tasks that the party has to carry out to maintain itself, win elections and also prepare to govern. Of course a party must renew itself and grow. So it is expected that it will attract and recruit new talent. We the people salute dialogue, engagement, inclusion and collaboration. However, one expects that there is  a process of induction into the party and that one must serve and demonstrate one’s commitment to the party, its members and what the party represents before one is admitted as a full-fledged member of the party, eligible to hold high office.

What innovative strategies and tactics has the NDC applied to come up these three gentlemen as front runners in the contest for the position of Political Leader of the National Democratic Congress to lead the party in the next general elections which could be called at any time? On what basis did these gentlemen pass the selection committee and were deemed as suitable for the post of Political Leader?  Who are they? Key questions for we the people should be:-

  • What is their track record?
  • What struggles have they been involved in?
  • What public interest issue have we heard them advocating on/ have they taken a stand on?
  • Whose interest do they defend/have you heard them defending?

The Contenders for Political Leadership

  • Dickon Mitchell
    • Track Record of Defending Public Interests(?): Dickon Mitchell is a young attorney, probably with special appeal to young people. He has been described by some as “brilliant” and has a successful practice as corporate attorney.  According to reports, he is backed by businessmen in the South. What struggles has one ever heard Mr. Mitchell being involved in? Does anyone know of any issue of public interest on which Mr. Mitchell has taken a public stand?
    • Citizenship by Investment Local Agent: Mitchell is a citizenship by investment local agent.   Undoubtedly, it must be contributing to a lucrative career but it is my considered opinion that this immediately disqualifies him from representing the interest of we the people.  I am an uncompromising, unapologetic and unrelenting opponent of  the citizenship  by investment programme, i.e. the sale of Grenadian passports.  It is my considered opinion that the public interests and citizenship by investment are not aligned.  We know that Grenada’s programme is full of sleazy examples and shady dealings. E.g. Grenada Sustainable Aquaculture aka Shrimp Farm Project.
    • Attorney for Levera Resort Dev. Inc: Back in 2019, we the people may recall that Mr. Mitchell  was in the news as counsel for Levera Resort Development Inc. – the company of the so called English millionaire, actually a debt junkie, Paul Taylor which sold the Levera property, to the current CBI “developers”, Heng Sheng.  LRD Inc. was taken to court by the Oveson Group which relaunched the project after some agreement with LDRI and the Government of Grenada for it to be a citizenship by investment project. Does anyone remember the farce of the relaunch?  But that is another story.
    • Sale by Levera Resort to Heng Sheng: The reason that Heng Sheng now controls the property is because of the failure of the National Democratic  Congress to take back the “people’s property”  from Paul Taylor’s company – as  the government had the right and responsibility to do under the agreement.
        • Taylor invoked a clause in the sale agreement with to Oveson’s Company – a certain amount of payment was required from Oveson’s company within  a certain time frame.  It is IRONIC that a similar clause existed in the agreement with Taylor’s company and the Government of Grenada (then the NNP) – a certain amount of investment was to be made within a certain time frame.  Taylor, the debt junkie, could not/did not that commitment but the NDC Administration REFUSED to act!!  Taylor’s wife of Grenadian descent was even made an Ambassador.    An area, both landscape and seascape, that was designated to be a National Park and Protected area “in perpetuity” – for generations to come – has passed into the control of a Singapore-based company called Heng Sheng.  And the irony of the situation is that the financing of the development will be by the sale of Grenadian passports to create a China town for millionaires.
        • Persons Lands Acquired without Compensation: Are we the people aware that the ordinary people whose lands were acquired to give to the initial developers (those before Paul Taylor) have not yet been compensated for their property?  The Levera Story is a LONG story for another time.
    • Question for Mr. Mitchell:  Would he be advocating for transparency and accountability in respect of the CBI programme?  Should the people of Grenada know who are the persons holding Grenada passports and citizenship?  Would he advocate for action on the enquiry into the Shrimp Farm Project and the funds collected?  Will he advocate for transparency and accountability in respect of the finances of CBI programme, particularly the Prime Minister’s Piggy Bank, the National Transformation Fund?
  • Phillip Telesford
    • Credit Union Movement: Neither are we the people aware of any public interest struggles/advocacy that have been defended/led Mr. Phillip Telesford.  To his credit, he has served  as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ariza Credit Union and President of the Grenada Credit Union League.  In an interview, he mentioned in a somewhat by the way manner that credit unions were good for Grenada.  What will be his strategy?  One expects that having served in those positions that he is aware of the Antigonish Movement in the Maritime Provinces of Canada and how credit unions empowered disadvantaged persons in rural communities  to save themselves during the Great Depression.
    • Church: He mentioned church as being important.  Perhaps we can speculate whether there is “behind the scenes” influence of religious actors in this selection?
    • Poultry Farmer/Excellent Farms: More interesting, he advised that he is a POULTRY farmer and his operation, Excellent Farms employs 60 persons.  It is the largest poultry operation in Grenada, having begun operations in February 2020.   According to the New Today, “Telesford has joined forces with local attorney-at-law, Dickon Mitchell, businessman Derek Steele, father of government minister Nicholas Steele and the relatively unknown Osbert Hood. A remarkable co-incidence in respect of his partners and a dream come true apparently!
    • Some Questions for Mr. Telesford: Grenada imports a significant amount of poultry products and there is also a large number of small producers.  Some of we the people are of the opinion that fixing the issues pertaining to the poultry sector and ensuring that money spent on  poultry imports is diverted to circulation inside of Grenada would contribute significantly to the economic and social well being of Grenada.  Among the questions that we the people would put to Mr. Telesford, contender for the position of Political Leader are the following:-
      • Is his project supported by Citizenship by Investment? (We are aware that agriculture is an approved sector for the CBI).
      • What are his proposals to address the issues of the sector and the SMALL PRODUCERS to support their growth and sustainability?
  • Terry Forrester
Related:  Sandra responds to Kem Jones

Mr. Forrester, the former Public Relations Officer, face and mouth piece of the New National Party for ten years or more is a contender  for the position of Political Leader of the NDC!!??

I suggest that persons who are interested in this contender go back and listen to his famous press conference of July 17th, 2017 when he announced his break with the Prime Minister and the New National Party.  He was then PRO.  I recall hearing Mr. Forrester back in 2007 on a programme, Sundays with George Grant.  I do not recall the issue but I vividly remember my reaction.  I tipped my imaginary hat to Mr. Forrester.  In fact, I called in and offered my congratulations – Mr. Forrester is REALLY GOOD. If you know that you are wearing a blue shirt, be careful in the presence of Mr. Forrester.  He will convince you that the colour is actually pink!!

Press Conference July 17th, 2017
He got the press and we the people hyped up for his press conference, promising to “unmask the masked men” and then opened his press conference with his apologies for using “derogatory and defamatory” statements and spoke about the exemplary qualities of the Prime Minister – hard working, dedication to country, a scholar, a formidable contender in and out of office, on the playing field, on the job and a family man.

His spoke of the ungratefulness of the Prime Minister – how many times he, Forrester,  had been overlooked to be a Senator or a candidate.  He had expressed his interest on more than one occasion but had been always turned down, had  never been  given any reason nor did he ask.  I found his statement interesting – Being the personality I am, I kept smiling, PRETENDING that everything was fine.  According to Mr. Forrester, I guess I was a pretty good ACTOR(my emphasis). I defended the government, the party, Prime Minister, the Political Leader at every opportunity, to the best of my ability.   It was like an attorney-client relationship.   I have always found Mr. Forrester to be very civil, cordial, pleasant and a diplomat but in the light of this revelation one would have to ask when dealing with Mr. Forrester “whether what you seeing and hearing is what yuh really getting”.

Dictatorial Style and Victimization
Mr. Forrester clarified that the reason for his break with the New National Party was the growing dictatorial and controlling style of the Prime Minister and his victimization of those who dared to “cross him”.  He noted that as Prime Minister Dr. Mitchell advanced in age, the stronger his will to demonstrate his power to victimize anyone who crossed his path.  This style was stifling the growth of Grenada and of the NNP. Mr. Forrester  apologized to the nation for his role in wittingly or unwittingly contributing to that style of leadership by the Prime Minister.  However, while advising of these unhealthy behaviours being demonstrated by the Prime Minister, Mr. Forrester stayed clear of making reference to any ills/allegations of any ills  that the Prime Minister’s conduct may have created for Grenada, refusing to answer or claiming ignorance.  Mr. Forrester also described himself as “squeaky clean” and being the “clean up man” in his role as Chairman of a number of   statutory authorities.  He also mentioned that as  PRO of the party he was the travelling companion of one Asfal Fischer, a foreign investment representative of Grenada, looking for foreign investment opportunities.

Priority Agenda Items
During his press conference, Mr. Forrester identified his priority issues: – Grenada’s food insecurity, underperforming agriculture, youth unemployment, zoning of the country to protect its lands and a national development plan.

Questions for Mr. Forrester
Among the questions for Mr. Forrester are the following:-

  • Who is/was Mr. Asfal Fisher, foreign investment representative of Grenada? During what period did he play this role?  Which project/investments did Mr. Fischer  secure for Grenada?  To whom did he report and from whom did he receive instructions?  How was he compensated for this “service”?
  • What was Mr. Forrester’s role as the travelling companion of Mr. Fischer?
  • As a Political Leader of a party, how will he, Mr. Forrester, respond to demands for accountability and transparency and deal with allegations and incidences of corruption? E.g. the Shrimp Farm. This question is also pertinent and applicable to the other two contenders.

He Who Pays the Piper
In some quarters, there is much excitement about those among the contenders WHO  apparently have  access/will have access to very deep pockets  and its resources.  Resources are vital but we the people must not be fooled.  Those who pay the piper play the tune. And if they are interested in supporting a particular candidate(s), what do they expect in return?  Is it aligned with the interests of we the people? The rank and file /we the masses who will be participating in the decision re choice of political leader  should not permit the party elite and those holding high office to take the M out of Masses. We must “mind our business “- seek answers, demand accountability and make informed decisions.

Sandra C.A. Ferguson