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Letters

Solidarity with the Opposition Leader

Hon. Tobias Clement
Leader of the Opposition
Office of the Leader of the Opposition

July 16th, 2021

Greetings Hon. Clement,

Re Letter of Solidarity: Sitting of House of Representatives, Wed, July 7th, 2021

Permit me to advise that I write this letter to you in my individual, personal capacity. Via this letter to you, I am doing two things:-

Responding to the challenge of the Prime Minister – “Wrong is wrong no matter where it is! Speak on it!”

To offer you my SOLIDARITY in view of the conduct of the Prime Minister, Chief and elder Statesman in the Honourable House, and his treatment of your contribution to the Honourable House.

I had the opportunity to listen in part to the proceedings of the House of Representatives on July 7th during which I heard your contributions re personal explanations or what, according to the Speaker of the House, should be better referred to as public business.

Among the concerns/observations that you brought to the attention of the House and to we the people were the following:-

The plight of a 75-year old taxi driver, whose authorisation to operate at the airport was suspended for 6 months. He lived alone and was without a means of livelihood. He was in a state of deterioration.

The fires at the Perseverance landfill and its impact on the health of persons who have to drive through the area every day or live in the surrounding areas. You specifically mentioned the toxic fumes generated by the burning of 80,000 tyres!

Lack of drainage from the Chinese Housing Scheme in Beausejour and the general neglect of the environment in respect of infrastructural development.

The cancellation of Carnival Bank Holidays: You indicated your support for the cancellation of the Carnival bank holidays. However, was this applied consistently across the board? Were other festivals also cancelled. E.g. regatta in Carriacou? Drawing on examples from other countries, you emphasized the need to continue with protocols such as wearing masks and social distancing, notwithstanding vaccination.

In response to your contribution, the Prime Minister sought to belittle you, sought to make you look small as we say in local parlance by making snide remarks, making fun of you, suggesting that you were a hypocrite, you were in the POSING business and “speaking on two sides of your mouth”.In my opinion, this conduct was DISRESPECTFUL and DISGRACEFUL. It is within this context that I pen this letter to you extending my SOLIDARITY and offering my own comments.

Located in St. George’s North West
The Prime Minister took issue with you raising concerns/making observations on the Perseverance landfill and the drainage problems associated with the Beausejour Housing Scheme, seeming to suggest that these were issues for the representative of St. George’s North West, i.e. himself. What is the implicit message in this? Is the Prime Minister suggesting that you or any other Member of Parliament do not have a right to speak on issues affecting other constituencies or in his constituency? Is the constituency a fiefdom?

Technical Issue:
The Prime Minister stated that the issue of Perseverance was a “highly technical issue”. No one doubts this! But, is he suggesting that others are incapable or do not have the right to comment on technical issues? And certainly, he can “re-arrange the ignorance” of all of us by providing pertinent information to the Honourable House.

The challenge of the Perseverance landfill started from the beginning, some 20 odd years ago! And he has been the Member of Parliament for that entire period! What can we the people conclude about his representation of his constituents in respect of that problem?

There may be persons who can recall that from the beginning, there were several issues with regard to that landfill project. The original site had to be abandoned shortly after the start of the project. Why was this so? Were the appropriate studies done? How much debt did Grenada incur in establishing the landfill? What is the status of that debt at this time? It is we the people that have to pay back these debts, Hon. Clement, as Leader of the Opposition, you have a right and a responsibility to speak on the matter of Perseverance.

Protection of Health! Health! Health!
It is so ironic! The Prime Minister/Representative for St. George’s North West and his Minister of Health in their vaccination advocacy during the sitting purported to be protecting the health of Grenada. They seemed to be oblivious to the threats posed to the health of nation’s citizens by the fires of Perseverance – that the burning of those tyres and the release of TOXIC fumes, affected air quality, pre-disposing those exposed to these fumes to respiratory conditions and also increased the risks of COVID-19 infection.

Solutions re Used Tyres
On the later newscasts, I heard the Prime Minister speaking about the proposed solution to dealing with the Molinere slippage and he appears to be boasting that the COSTS of addressing the slippage will take most of the DFID money contributed by the United Kingdom. Among the strategies proposed is the terracing of the land on the bottom side road.

Permit me to suggest Hon. Clement, that perhaps this is an area to which the 80,000 tyres could have contributed to a “green solution” and a response to climate change challenge. Those tyres could have been used in the stabilisation of the slope, using them to support the terraces and reinforcing the barrier by planting the appropriate trees in them.

The tyres would have been reused, the carbon footprint of the repairs would have been reduced by using the tyres instead of concrete and the trees would be a carbon sink, using up carbon dioxide emissions. This solution would also be aesthetically pleasing while also improving the ambient environment. It could also be very productive by planting appropriate fruit trees in between.

St. George’s North East
Hon. Clement, you are currently the Member of Parliament for St. George’s North East. The Prime Minister took several jibes at you, insinuating that your political career as representative of North-east St. George’s would be finished, all the time wearing a knowing grin on his face.

The Prime Minister’s apparent confidence that his party already has the St. George North-east constituency “in the bag” reminds we the people of the issue of the integrity of the registration process which is at the heart of the electoral process and the role of the Office of the Supervisor of Elections. One wins or loses elections via the electoral process. As you are aware, Hon. Clement, voter padding is a serious issue to be addressed.

Permit me to also bring the following to your attention:-

Online registration of voters – reference https://gov.gd/register-vote.

The government website is inviting persons to upload their documents including digital signatures. To the best of my knowledge the Representation of the People’s Act requires one to present one’s self and documents in person to the constituency office. How are the uploaded documents being processed and by whom? Is this a VIOLATION of the RPA?

Inviting those who have bought their passports – i.e. the citizenship by investment and become “citizens” – to apply for a voter’s registration card- http://www.infinitygrenada.com/voters-registration-card/

I urge you, Hon. Clement to make the issue of voter registration and the integrity of the electoral process a REFRAIN at all of the sittings of Parliament under the rubric Public Business!

I reiterate my solidarity and encourage you to continue to speak your truths calmly, unfazed by the disrespect that our Prime Minister, your former Political Leader, continues to meet out to you as Leader of the Opposition.

Sandra C.A. Ferguson